Christopher Durans was thrilled to learn we were making corn chips and guacamole. When a classmate asked what that was, he said: “You know, like the kind you get at Chipotle.”

The Chicken Tortilla Soup was not familiar to any of them, even to Chris, with his proud Hispanic heritage. But most of the ingredients were ones they all knew: tortillas, chicken, black beans, onions green peppers. And they were eager to get going: Alyssa Pagan attacked the onion; Mackenzie Forchion beautifully diced the green pepper, while E’Laya Goffney minced the garlic. The knife skills have progressed impressively in just two weeks! Shiaheem Freeman and Chris took their sautéing job quite seriously, watching the chicken thighs turn from pink to white to brown before we could add the other ingredients. “It smells amazing,” said Mackenzie as the sweet aroma of onions, garlic and peppers filled the kitchen. That is the “fragrance” the recipe calls for, I told them, and that’s how you build flavor in home-made soup. While the soup simmered, they cut the tortillas into strips for the soup garnish and quarters for the chips; then brushed the chips with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, before they went in the oven to crisp. “I did not know you could make chips like this,” said Shiaheem.

After the soup was complete, the last step was to taste and adjust, and everyone wanted to try. “Amazing!” said E’laya. “We did so good!” The rest of the group concurred. “It’s delicious,” said Alyssa. We didn’t need to add anything. It was ladled into bowls and topped with the tortilla strips, some grated cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. And the proof of its success was in the quiet slurping, and the fact that everyone wanted to bring some home. The chips were a huge hit, gone as soon as they hit the table, with requests for more. As for the guacamole, it was unfamiliar and strange to some, but everyone tried it and we had a few converts. Our resident expert, Chris, however, savored it for a moment before he pronounced it, “Perfect. Even better than Chipotle!”