Hispanic Kitchen

Spice It Up!

There are two dishes that remind me most of the Yucatán: pollo pibil and sopa de limón. Sometimes called Sopa de Lima, my host family in Mérida called it Sopa de Limón, and certainly surprised me by how unbelievably it tastes. Either way this chicken based Lime Soup, as it translates is amazing.

I still remember the first time I tasted it. I had fallen asleep on the bus on the way home from my University classes and ended up weaving around the streets on the bus for an hour longer than I should have. When I arrived home the house smelled…good. Not anything to write home about, but good. And I was STARVING. My host mom put a bowl of this soup in front of me. It looked like chicken soup, but prettier. The thin slices of lime floating in the broth promised that this would be different…and it was. The tangy lime beckons for you to keep eating until the bowl is empty, while the heat from the chile gives it a truly Mexican flavor. The chicken is juicy and tender, and it just didn’t matter that it was about 100 degrees outside and I was eating a hot bowl of soup. Now THAT'S chicken soup for your Yucatan soul!

That’s why sopa de limón is the ultimate summer soup. Despite the fact that it’s served hot, this delicious soup is more refreshing than you could imagine, with cooling, flavorful lime that doesn’t take over the other delicious flavors of the soup. And by the way, this is way more of a meal than just a soup. Plenty of chicken and lots of vegetables make this soup healthy and satisfying. Try adding a little rice if you are making it a meal, or soak up those last drips and some of the chicken in a corn tortilla to make the soup more substantial and kid friendly.

Sopa de Limon

Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, sliced thin

1 rib of celery, chopped

1 yellow chile or jalapeño, chopped (seed the chile if you don’t like the heat)

2 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp oregano, preferably Mexican

6 cups chicken stock or canned broth*

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

3-4 limes, juiced (about 1/3 cup)

2 green onions, sliced thin

chopped cilantro to garnish

salt to taste


1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile, carrot and celery. Let the veggies cook for about 4 minutes, or until they are soft and the onion is transparent. Add the garlic, oregano, and the bay leaf, stirring until the garlic is aromatic:

2. Add the chopped tomato, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.
3. Add the chicken and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a platter to cool, and continue simmering soup*.(see note)
4. When the chicken has cooled, shred with your hands or two forks and return to the broth. Add the chopped green onion and the lime juice. Salt to taste if needed, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

5. Serve the soup in shallow bowls and garnish with cilantro and thin slices of lime.

Note: If you are adding rice, increase the stock to 8 cups and add in ½ cup rice when you remove the chicken. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes before adding the chicken back in.



Other recipes by Carolyn:

Camarones a la Criolla (Shrimp Creole Style)
Pollo en Fricasé
Bistec Encebollado (Steak and Onions)
Ropa Vieja
Coctel de Camarones (Shrimp Cocktail)
Shrimp Tacos
Tacos de Carnitas
Sopa de Lentejas (Lentil Soup)
Pan de Bono
Huachinango a la Veracruzana (Snapper Veracruz)
Mil Colones Stew
Mofongo Relleno de Camarones

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Tags: chicken, lima, lime, limon, sopa, soup, yucatan, de, mexican, recipe


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Comment by the whole enchilada on September 21, 2010 at 3:02am
Mexican Limas aren't limes, they're a mild tasting, not too sweet and not tart at all, yet very floral citrus fruit. The original Yucatecan recipe is Sopa de Lima, which is basically chicken stock, juiced limas, sliced limas, cooked shreded chicken and julienned fried tortillas. I don't know waht else is used to infuse the soup for the times I've tried it it has a wonderful perfume and flavor. Maybe epazote or cilantro...?
Comment by Carolyn Swaney on March 4, 2010 at 9:42pm
I'm so excited Cathleen! It's delicious, isn't it???
Comment by Cathleen on March 3, 2010 at 8:33pm
I tried this recipe tonight and loved it!
Comment by Veronica Shine on February 26, 2010 at 5:32am
This is a great recipe. Anytime I have felt under the weather, I have always added lime to my chicken soup. The jalepeño is something I have not tried and I am sure it will give it the extra zing I need to get me moving!

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