SWEET LIME AND CHICKEN SOUP / SOPA DE LIMA
5 garlic cloves, not peeled, 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1⁄2
pounds), 10 cups water, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves, 3 cloves, 2 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more
for frying the tortilla strips, 1 cup chopped red onion, 1⁄2 pound ripe tomatoes,
chopped, with their juices, or half a 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 1 green or
yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 6 to 8 corn tortillas, cut into
2-x-1⁄2-inch strips and fried or baked until crisp (page 54), 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh
cilantro leaves and upper stems for garnish 1 sweet lime (or regular lime or
lemon), thinly sliced, for garnish, plus 2 to 3 sweet limes (or regular limes or
lemons) for squeezing, 1 fresh habanero chile, thinly sliced, for garnish (optional).
Preheat the broiler, with the rack 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Place the
unpeeled garlic cloves on a small baking sheet under the broiler and broil for 5 to
10 minutes, turning from time to time, until the skin is completely charred and
blackened and the garlic is soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside
to cool slightly; peel when cool enough to handle. Alternatively, you can char
the garlic on a preheated comal or skillet, turning it occasionally. Remove from
Place the chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with the water. Add the charred
garlic cloves, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the
pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Skim off the foam, cover
partially, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until
the chicken is cooked through but still moist. Remove from the heat.
Remove the chicken breasts from the broth and set aside until cool enough to
handle, then shred along the grain into thin pieces. Strain the broth into a large
bowl and add the shredded chicken.
Rinse and dry the pot. Add the oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add
the onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and cook,
stirring often, until the vegetables are very soft, almost a mash, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth and chicken and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to
low, partially cover, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the flavors have come
Ladle the soup into bowls: Top each serving with a handful of tortilla strips and
garnish with some of the cilantro, lime or lemon slices, a squeeze of juice, and, if
desired, some sliced habanero for added flavor and heat.
Sweet Limes: The sweet lime, Citrus limettioides, is of Asian origin. The fruit is
plump and round, about 21⁄2 inches in diameter, with smooth, deep green skin
that becomes yellow and freckled as the fruit matures.
Tortilla Chips (Totopos) or Strips: Tortilla chips usually get a nice sprinkling of kosher
salt just after they come out of the oil or oven or off the comal. Instead of cutting
the tortillas into wedges for chips, you can cut them into strips, as wide and long
as you want; just adjust the cooking time as necessary.
TO FRY: Cut the tortillas into wedges or strips and follow the directions for frying
tostadas above, cooking in batches and being careful not to crowd the pan. Drain
on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.
TO BAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the racks in the middle and
lower third. Oil a couple of baking sheets. Lightly brush or spray the tortilla wedges
or strips with oil. Place in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.
Turn over and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until tan and crisp;
do not allow them to get too dark. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with salt, and let
cool before serving.
Recipes excerpted from
PATI JINICH TREASURES OF THE MEXICAN TABLE:
Classic Recipes, Local Secrets © 2021
by Pati Jinich.
Photography © 2021 by Angie Mosier.
Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books,
an imprint of HarperCollins
Publishers. All rights reserved.
LATINAStyle V ol. 27, No. 4, 2021 www.latinastyle.com 37