Thursday, November 2, 2023

Celebrating the Arrival of Soup Weather...with Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup aka Sopa de Lima #chickensoup #soupweather #comfortfood

During a Cancun vacation several years ago, we took a day trip to Merida. While there, we had a flavorful chicken soup our entire group raved about. We loved it so much that I found a recipe for this soup online so I could make it when we returned home. Sopa de Lima aka Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup is similar to chicken-tortilla soup...with a refreshing citrus flavor. I have a few tips I've discovered over the years to ensure the best flavor in the finished soup:

First, I use skinless bone-in chicken breasts to give my broth a deeper chicken flavor. Per a chef we met in Merida, I add lime juice AND simmer lime halves in the broth for 15 minutes before serving. This allows the lime's citrus oil to infuse a deeper lime flavor into the soup. Finally, I add a bit of grated Cotija cheese to the top of each bowl before serving -- because a little cheese is never a bad thing!

Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup 
(Sopa de Lima)
adapted from Rick Bayless and a Chef in Merida, MX
Ingredients (makes 6-8 bowls of soup):
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large skinless, bone-in chicken breasts -- about 1.5 lbs.
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 limes
  • Garnishes: shredded Cotija or Monterrey Jack cheese, diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips OR fried corn tortilla strips, chopped cilantro, and additional wedges of lime
Step 1: Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven -- I used a 5-quart capacity. Heat over Med-High heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, and jalapeno. Stir and cook until the veggies are soft -- about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and Mexican oregano. Stir to combine, then cook for 1-2 minutes.
Step 2: Add the chopped tomato. Stir to combine, then cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so the soup gently simmers. Cover and simmer the soup for 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through.
Step 3: After an hour, remove the cooked chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Cut the limes in half, and add their juice to the soup. Then, place the lime halves into the soup to simmer for 15 minutes. 
Step 4: After 15 minutes, discard the lime halves. Add the shredded chicken and green onions to the soup, and stir well to combine. Let the soup sit covered -- off the heat -- for 5-10 minutes. This ensures all the flavors are fully incorporated.

To serve, ladle soup into deep bowls. Top each bowl with crushed tortilla chips or fried corn tortilla strips, cheese, avocado, and chopped cilantro. Serve additional lime wedges on the side for those who want an extra burst of fresh lime.
This is one delicious's definitely a complete meal in a bowl thanks to all the chicken and hearty toppings! The first thing you taste is the punch of lime, but it's not overpowering. It balances perfectly with the rich broth, earthy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, and gooey cheese. I make a pot of this soup... from chopping veggies to about 1.5 hours. The majority of that time is hands off as the soup simmers.

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