This Sopa de Lima recipe is a vibrant and tangy Mexican lime soup that combines the refreshing flavors of citrus with aromatic spices, and a rich and nourishing broth. This beloved dish offers a comforting and invigorating culinary experience, with tender chicken, crispy tortilla strips, and vibrant garnishes.
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Why we love this recipe
The fresh lime juice adds a tangy and citrusy flavor profile, which gives this soup a zesty and distinctive taste. It incorporates aromatic ingredients such as onions, garlic, and spices like cinnamon, and oregano giving this soup a delightful fragrance. The warmth and depth of flavor in the rich homemade broth make it a comforting option for a delicious meal.
Sopa de lima is considered a quintessential dish in the Yucatan Peninsula, home to North America’s largest indigenous population, the Mayans. Its cultural significance adds to its appeal, as people appreciate the opportunity to explore the diverse flavors and heritage of Mexico.
We enjoy it with this authentic Quesabirria recipe. These tacos pair perfectly with this savory soup.
- chicken pieces – bone-in and skin on – the skin adds rich collagen which gives a luscious silky, texture and the bones are nutrient-dense in calcium and magnesium. You could also substitute a turkey leg.
- fresh lime juice – if you can find them, use Mexican limes! They are commonly found throughout Mexico and widely available in the United States. They are larger than key limes, with a bright green color and smooth, thick skin.
- Mexican oregano – differs from regular oregano with a more citrusy and less woodsy flavor. It can be found online or locally at a Mexican grocery/specialty store. The citrus undertones in the oregano compliments the lime juice.
- bell peppers – if you like more heat you can use a habanero pepper instead of bell pepper.
- fire-roasted tomatoes – the charred flavor from the fire-roasted tomatoes ad a lot of depth ad flavor. You could also use regular diced tomatoes or even salsa.
- corn tortillas – the crunchy tortilla chip topping is a must!
- soup pot – based on my first-hand experience, a 4-quart soup pot works perfectly.
- mesh sieve – this is crucial for straining your broth
First, get your pollo in the pot.
You want the chicken to have bones and skin to bring all that oily goodness to your broth. I use chicken breasts, a full leg with thigh meat, and a few wings. Season the protein with sea salt and cracked black peppercorns.
Then, add in the whole vegetables and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken to a plate and strain the broth into another pot, reserving the liquid. Shred the chicken and set it aside.
Wipe out the soup pot and warm a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the chopped veggies and cook them until soft. Add the broth back in and simmer.
Finally, add the shredded chicken, lime juice, and chopped cilantro to the pot.
Serve warm with the toppings of your choice.
The best way to garnish your bowls of soup is with homemade crispy tortilla strips. They are way easier than you think and add a nice bit of crunch to the soup. They crisp up quickly with a bit of vegetable oil in a pan then transfer them to a paper towel. The towels help to blot out any excess oil leaving you with the crunch!
- Make a vegetarian version by replacing the meat with beans or tofu.
- Add a few splashes of cream or coconut milk to the broth to create a creamier version.
- Swap the chicken out for seafood or fish such as shrimp or cod or both and make a seafood version.
Toppings include tortilla chips, fresh avocado slices, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, fresh salsa, crumbled queso, or shredded cheese.
Serve with tortillas or crusty bread on the side so sop up some of that beautiful broth.
Sopa de lima can be served alongside other Mexican-inspired dishes such as tamales. We also love it alongside these Birria Quesadillas from Keesha’s Kitchen.
Sopa de lima translates to lime soup in Spanish, referring to the use of lime as the key ingredient.
Yes! The soup itself can be made ahead of time but the garnishes must be prepared fresh.
Storing and reheating
To store the soup, let it cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.
To reheat, pour the soup into a large pot and bring it to a gentle simmer. Let it simmer over medium-low until it is heated through. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes.
More healthy chicken soup recipes
**This recipe was originally posted on February 18, 2020, updated on April 27, 2022, and updated again on May 2, 2023, with recipe notes, writing, and new photos.**
If you’ve tried my SOPA DE LIMA, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out by leaving me a comment below. I’m always interested in feedback!
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Sopa de Lima
FOR THE SOUP
- 2 lbs chicken pieces – bone-in and skin on
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 large onion, cut in half – keep 1 half intact and finely dice the other half.
- 8 cloves garlic – keep 4 whole and finely mince the other 4.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp Mexican oregano
- ½ cup fire-roasted tomatoes
- ¼ cup finely chopped green peppers
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice – plus extra sliced limes for garnish
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
FOR THE CRISPY TORTILLA STRIPS
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into strips
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
MORE GARNISH IDEAS
- lime wedges
- chopped avocado
- sliced jalapenos
- fresh salsa
- crumbled queso or shredded cheese
- sour cream
- Add the pieces of chicken to a large pot and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper. Add the broth, ½ of the onion, 4 cloves of garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and oregano.
- Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through – approximately 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and set aside. when it is cool enough to handle remove the skin and bones and shred the meat.
- Strain the broth into another pot or large bowl. Reserve the broth and set aside.
- Wipe out the soup pot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Set over medium heat. Add the diced onion and green pepper, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper, and stir well.
- Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until softened. Add the minced garlic and stir for 1 more minute.
- Add the broth back to the pot along with the fire-roasted tomatoes, stir, and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings for more salt or pepper as desired.
FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS
- Warm the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When it is hot, the tortilla strips, and fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tortilla strips are mostly crisp all over. Transfer the strips to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with crispy tortilla strips and other desired garnishes.