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Max & Erma's

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    Score: 4.14. Votes: 14

    After years of fielding requests to clone the delicious signature soup from this 100-unit chain, I was finally able to secure a couple carry-out samples from Max & Erma's at the Cleveland airport while I was there on biz trip. Wrapped in a bundle of napkins and tucked into a carry-on bag, my samples arrived home in Vegas still warm and ready for analysis. For this one you'll need some white and dark fillets of chicken and a half pound hunk of cheese to shred. It's all that Cheddar cheese that makes this tortilla soup so good. And you'll definitely want to shred your own, since the pre-shredded stuff—while also more expensive—just doesn't melt as well in the chicken broth as cheese that's been shredded just before it goes into the pot. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 2/8/17: This recipe may work better if you first make a sauce with the cheese before adding it to the soup. After step #2, combine 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of milk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese until it's melted. Keep the cheese sauce warm over low heat until you need it. Reduce the cornstarch to 1 tablespoon and dissolve it into the chicken broth in a large saucepan. Add the chicken, sauteed vegetables, and remaining ingredients for the soup (except the cheese sauce) and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese sauce and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes while you bounce to step #4.