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sopa de lima

What is Sopa de Lima? How to Make Sopa de Lima

Sopa de Lima is a traditional soup from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, known for its vibrant flavors and refreshing qualities. It’s characterized by a tangy and citrusy broth infused with the distinct flavor of lima (Mexican lime). While traditionally made with chicken, vegetarian versions replace the meat with vegetable broth or utilize vegetarian chicken substitutes.

Texture-wise, Sopa de Lima features a clear and aromatic broth made from ingredients such as lime juice, chicken or vegetable broth, onions, garlic, and sometimes tomatoes. The soup may also include shredded chicken in non-vegetarian versions or vegetarian chicken alternatives for protein.

The defining element of Sopa de Lima is the use of crispy strips of tortilla as a garnish, which are added just before serving. These tortilla strips add a satisfying crunch to the soup, contrasting beautifully with the lightness of the broth and providing a textural dimension.

The soup is usually topped with other ingredients such as fresh cilantro, avocado slices, and sometimes a dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema. These toppings enhance the soup’s visual appeal and add different textures and flavors to each spoonful.

Cooking Sopa de Lima typically involves simmering the broth ingredients together to infuse the flavors, adding lime juice towards the end to preserve its tanginess. The tortilla strips are fried separately until crispy and added as a final touch before serving.

Sopa de Lima is beloved for its refreshing citrusy taste, the satisfying crunch of tortilla strips, and the combination of fresh, zesty flavors from the lime and other garnishes. It’s a comforting and flavorful soup that showcases the unique flavors of the Yucatan region in Mexico.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this soup appeals to: Soup enthusiasts, those seeking a taste of Yucatecan flavors, anyone ready for a cozy and satisfying meal.
  • Estimated duration: A flavorful experience that takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Nutrition facts: A hearty and nourishing soup with the zesty kick of lime.

About this Recipe

Sopa de Lima is a classic Mexican soup known for its distinctive use of lime and regional spices. This recipe guides you through the steps of creating this comforting dish, allowing you to savor the unique blend of flavors that define Yucatecan cuisine.



  • 2 pounds chicken pieces (thighs or drumsticks)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Water for boiling


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon achiote powder (optional, for color)
  • 6 cups chicken broth (from the boiled chicken)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Avocado slices
  • Tortilla strips or chips


Broth Preparation:

  1. Boil Chicken:
  • In a large pot, combine chicken pieces, halved onion, smashed garlic, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper.
  • Fill the pot with water until all ingredients are submerged.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for about 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  1. Strain Broth:
  • Remove the chicken from the pot, strain and reserve the broth. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.


  1. Shred Chicken:
  • Shred the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  1. Sauté Aromatics:
  • In a separate pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, sauté until softened.
  1. Add Vegetables:
  • Stir in diced tomatoes, green bell pepper, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables start to soften.
  1. Season:
  • Add ground cumin, dried oregano, and achiote powder (if using). Season with salt and black pepper.
  1. Pour Chicken Broth:
  • Pour in the reserved chicken broth. Bring the soup to a simmer and let it cook for an additional 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  1. Lime Infusion:
  • Add the juice and zest of limes to the soup. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.


  1. Assemble Bowls:
  • In serving bowls, place a portion of shredded chicken.
  1. Pour Hot Broth:
    • Ladle the hot Sopa de Lima broth over the chicken.


  1. Garnish and Serve:
    • Garnish each bowl with thinly sliced radishes, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado slices, and tortilla strips or chips.

Side Suggestions

  • Warm corn tortillas for dipping
  • Squeeze of extra lime for added freshness
  • Pickled red onions for a tangy kick

Storage Options

Sopa de Lima stores well in the refrigerator for up to three days. Keep the garnishes separate and add them just before serving. Reheat gently on the stove, adding a bit of water if needed.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Achiote Powder: If unavailable, you can omit it without compromising the overall flavor.

Alternatives to this Soup

For a heartier version, add cooked white beans or hominy to the soup during the last few minutes of cooking for an extra layer of texture.


Sopa de Lima invites you to savor the distinctive and comforting flavors of the Yucatán. From the zesty lime infusion to the aromatic spices and tender chicken, each spoonful transports you to the heart of Mexican culinary tradition. ¡Buen provecho!