Sopa de Lima
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Sopa de Lima

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 10 min (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
The most famous soup from the Yucatan, sopa de lima highlights the subtle, sweet, bergamot-like flavor of limas, a type of citrus from the region. Meyer lemon is a close second from what we can find in the U.S. The soup is traditionally seasoned with a classic recado, a mixture of warm spices, garlic and bitter orange (naranja agria) juice, and the chicken is usually boiled plain. In this rendition, the chicken gets a recado rub and is marinated for a few hours to capture the essence of the spices. Browning the chicken until crispy and then cooking it through in the soup builds on the flavors that keep you coming back for more.



  1. Combine the orange juice, (regular) lemon juice, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, place in a resealable bag or a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin-side down in batches and cook until the skin is crispy and brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and continue to cook and turn until the skin is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and reserve.
  3. Add the onion to the chicken drippings in the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have released most of their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken to the pot and add the broth, lemon zest, Meyer lemon slices and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board or plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat off the bones and return it to the pot.
  5. Meanwhile, make the tiritas de totopos (alternatively, you can use store-bought tortilla chips). Add the peanut oil to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in 4 batches, fry the tortilla strips in 4 batches until lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer each batch to a bowl using a slotted spoon or a spider and season with salt, about 1/4 teaspoon per batch, tossing to coat. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil and repeat with the remaining batches.
  6. Divide the soup and chicken among bowls. Garnish with the crispy tortilla chips and Meyer lemon wedges if desired.

Cook’s Note

Meyer lemons are typically sweeter and smalller than regular lemons. The Meyer lemon here may be substituted with 1 small lemon and 1/2 Valencia orange.