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Chicken & Lime Soup

Chicken Lime Soup (Sopa De Lima) – Flavorful, filling, and a little bit spicy, this yummy Mexican chicken soup is always a hit! (Gluten-Free, Paleo & Whole30)

Overhead view of a bowl of chicken lime soup (sopa de lima) topped with avocado and cilantro

This chicken lime soup recipe was originally posted on One Lovely Life almost 8 years ago!!! It’s kind of bananas to think we’ve been making it that long. When I first shared our recipe for this yummy soup, Michael was in graduate school, both kids were tiny and home with me all day, and I was fitting in work during early mornings, late nights, and naptimes. It feels like a lifetime ago!

So many things have changed since then, but this yummy taco soup has remained one of our favorites. It’s easy to pull together, pretty budget-friendly, and it’s as delicious as it is nourishing. I love the ingredient list and love the flavor of this soup even more.

Here’s what you need to make this Chicken Lime Soup recipe…

Ingredients for sopa de lime (chicken lime soup)

What Is Sopa De Lima?

Sopa De Lima is a popular soup local to the Yucatán region of Mexico, with roots in Hispanic and Yucatan Mayan culture. It can be made of chicken, beef, or pork and is often served with tortilla chips or tortilla crisps on the side. Our recipe has tried to be respectful of the origins of the recipe while not claiming to be strictly authentic.

Here’s What Goes Into Chicken Lime Soup (Sopa De Lima)

  • Cooked Chicken. I usually make this with leftover roasted, grilled, or rotisserie chicken to keep things easy. Check out the FAQ below if you want to cook your chicken *in* the soup, or want ideas for how to cook chicken for this recipe.
  • Onion, Carrots & Celery. This trio of veggies is known as mirepoix in French cooking, but it’s a common flavor base across many different cuisines! Carrots aren’t part of authentic sopa de lima, but I’ve been adding them for years since it’s an easy way to get in an extra veggie (which is something we’re basically always aiming for at this house!)
  • Garlic. The onion, carrot, and celery help develop an aromatic base for this chicken lime soup, but garlic is definitely a MUST and takes it even further. I’ve been using frozen garlic cubes lately (pre-minced, no extra ingredients/preservatives, and taste just as flavorful as fresh!).
  • Chili Powder. This has a mix of lots of different spices, and I find it adds just the right touch of flavor to this soup.
  • Tomatoes With Green Chiles. In my original 2014 recipe, I used 2 small cans of diced tomatoes + 1 small can of green chiles. These days, I usually use the tomatoes canned WITH green chiles (like Mild Ro-tel or Muir Glen brands). The ingredients for both brands are considered Whole30-approved.
  • Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth. Then, you’ll pour in some lovely broth. If you’re going with vegetable broth, we love Imagine Organic Brand (great flavor!). If you prefer chicken broth, we love homemade or a good-quality bone broth like Bonafide Provisions or Kettle & Fire.
  • Cilantro. Plenty of cilantro adds freshness and its gorgeous bright green color to the soup. It’s a must for me!
  • Fresh Lime Juice. Last, but not least, but the “lima” in your Sopa De Lima/Chicken Lime Soup by adding some fresh lime juice. The bottled stuff is too bitter here, so use fresh whenever possible!

Got your ingredients at the ready? Let’s dive in to just how to make chicken lime soup…

How To Make Sopa De Lima, Step By Step:

  1. Start With Oil. In a large Dutch oven or big pot, heat a small drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until just tender.
  3. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in tomatoes with green chiles, cooked chicken, and cilantro. Pour in the broth.
  5. Heat the soup to a simmer and allow to simmer at least 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld. If you can, simmer a bit longer (25-35 minutes) to allow the flavors to develop even more. You can also make the soup in advance and let it chill overnight to get even more flavor!
  6. Just before serving, squeeze lime juice into soup or serve individual lime wedges and allow each person to add as much as they please. Garnish with extra cilantro and serve large, steaming bowlfuls!
Overhead view of toppings for chicken lime soup (sopa de lima)

What To Serve With Chicken Lime Soup:

Garnishes:

  • Fresh Lime Wedges. Add even more lime flavor to your soup with a wedge of fresh lime. You’ll LOVE the flavor!
  • More Cilantro. Ditto! For me, the more cilantro the better!
  • Sliced or Diced Avocado. I love creamy, cooling avocado with this warm, spicy soup. It’s a delightful combination!
  • Sliced Jalapeños. Add a bit more kick with some sliced jalapeño. (Remove the seeds & white ribs to make them milder)
  • A Little Cotija Cheese. If dairy works for your diet, a sprinkle of cotija cheese can be such a yummy way to finish off this soup! (Note: this doesn’t work for Paleo or Whole30 diets)

Side Dishes

  • Tortilla Chips. These can be regular corn tortilla chips or grain-free tortilla chips (like Siete brand). Whichever works for your dietary needs!
  • Crispy Tortilla Strips! I love making crispy tortilla strips from corn tortillas like we do for our Chicken Tortilla Soup. The crunch + the gorgeous broth gets me every time. Yum!
  • Quesadillas. It’s kind of like a Tex-Mex take on tomato soup & grilled cheese!
  • A Yummy Side Salad. Do a soup and salad combo with a classic green salad, or give it some Tex-Mex vibes by serving a salad with our Tomatillo Ranch or Cilantro Lime Ranch.
  • Honey Lime Fruit Salad. End the meal with our honey lime fruit salad. The flavors are so complementary and the cool, fresh fruit is a lovely complement to the warm, spicy soup.

FAQ & Tips For The Best Chicken Lime Soup

Is Chicken Lime Soup Spicy? It *can* be. As written with the updated instructions, I’d put this soup in the medium category. There are a few things you can do to turn down the heat if you want something more mild:

  1. Try using 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and 1 can of regular tomatoes. This will tone down the heat a bit.
  2. Use 2 cans regular tomatoes + 1 small can mild green chiles. This is even more mild.
  3. Skip the green chiles all together. If you’re super heat sensitive, skip those green chiles all together. You can play with the amount of chili powder, if needed, to compensate later.

Can I Cook My Chicken Directly In The Soup? You can. You can either dice & cook the chicken in a bit of olive oil in the pot before getting started on the rest of the soup (remove it to a plate after you’ve cooked it, then follow the recipe as written). Or, you can add the chicken breast to the soup at the simmering stage. Gently simmer the soup for 25-35 minutes, or until the chicken is tender enough to shred. (Kind of like poaching it directly in the soup)

What’s The Best Way To Cook Chicken For Taco Soup? This is the perfect time to use leftover cooked chicken, but you need some leftovers to use in the first place! For most soups, I recommend poachedbaked, roasted, or rotisserie chicken. (Sprouts & Whole Foods sell unseasoned rotisserie chickens that work well for Paleo/Whole30)

Are Ro-tel Tomatoes Whole30? Canned tomatoes with green chiles, like Rotel & Muir Glen brands, are considered Whole30. You can double-check the ingredients if you’re nervous, but at the time of this writing, the only additives in these brands (calcium chloride, a firming agent/salty flavor and citric acid) are on this list of Whole30-approved additives. This brand is also discussed in the Whole30 forums, and has been approved multiple times by the moderators. You are always welcome to make your own decisions!

Overhead view of a bowl of chicken lime soup (sopa de lima) topped with lime and jalapeno

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Overhead view of a bowl of chicken lime soup (sopa de lima) topped with avocado and cilantro

Chicken & Lime Soup (Sopa De Lima)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cups (8 generous servings) 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This is delicious, flavorful, and healthy! It gets better the longer you let it sit, so if you can, try to make it the night or morning before you plan to eat it. Leftovers make a great lunch (or even breakfast!)


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable broth, chicken broth, or chicken stock
  • 2 (1o oz.) cans diced tomatoes with mild green chiles (like Ro-Tel or Muir Glen)*
  • 1 tsp. chili powder*
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice of 12 limes, or to taste
  • olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Start With Oil. In a large Dutch oven or large pot, heat a small drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot with a sprinkle of salt, and cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until just tender.
  3. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in tomatoes with green chiles, cooked chicken, and cilantro. Pour in the broth.
  5. Heat the soup to a simmer and allow to simmer at least 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld. If you can, simmer a bit longer (25-35 minutes) to allow the flavors to develop even more. You can also make the soup in advance and let it chill overnight to get even more flavor!
  6. Just before serving, squeeze lime juice into soup or serve individual lime wedges and allow each person to add as much as they please. Garnish with extra cilantro and serve large, steaming bowlfuls!

Notes

*Original Recipe Notes: The 2014 version of this soup called for 1 (28oz) can or 2 (14oz) cans of diced tomatoes and 1 (4oz.) can diced green chiles, and just 1/2 tsp. chili powder. Over the years, we’ve shifted to more chili powder and diced tomatoes with green chiles, but you are welcome to do what works for you! 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Keywords: chicken lime soup, sopa de lima, chicken lime taco soup, lime taco soup, chicken lime tortilla soup

Originally posted April 2014. Fully updated January 2022.

20 Comments

    1. I have no reason to think it wouldn’t work. I don’t usually make soup in the crock pot, so I don’t have any special tips for you, but in theory, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Similar recipes I searched online say low 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours should allow all the veggies to get tender and the flavors to blend well. If you do try it in the crock pot, I’d love to know how it turns out!

      1. I (only)Make it in the crockpot everytime. Delish my family loves it..i fry up some plaintains to serve with it they love it!! Gonna use frozen uncooked chicken today aince I have on hand cook all day on low for dinner tonight!!

    1. Not yet doing a Whole30. Much of what I eat is Whole30 approved, but since so many friends and bloggers are doing one, I thought I’d just make the recipes easier to find 🙂

  1. Loved this! I’ve had it bookmarked forever and finally made it tonight. I may switch out the diced tomatoes for crushed tomatoes next time bc I always forget I don’t like big chunks of tomato in my soup! Still super tasty. Loved the line addition. I’ve only used lemon in soups in the past.

  2. Love this soup…it’s a great make and take soup for friends and family….but can it be frozen if you aren’t able to eat it right away? Thanks.

    1. Mickey – I’ve frozen it with good results. The chicken is slightly less tender after thawing, but the soup’s flavor and texture are still on point. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Absolutely love this recipe! I’ve made it several times now and always sad when it’s gone. Thank you for posting!! ~ Erin

  4. I never comment on things but this was so AMAZING! The whole family loved it and can’t wait for me to make it again. Thank you for helping me add a great recipe to my arsenal!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you liked it Cheryn! It’s become the soup I bring to friends who are sick or who have had a baby. It’s the BEST!

  5. This is soooooo delicious!

    I see it makes 8 servings. What are the serving sizes? I am tracking my food…

    Thanks so much!

    1. Monica – I haven’t measured them in volume, I’m sorry! I just divide the pot by 8. I’m not sure what you’re using to track your food, but in MyFitnessPal, you can calculate a per-serving nutrition calculation and import this recipe.

  6. I know this post is pretty darn old, but I still love this soup! I make it about once a month and vary up some of the veggies and spices so it is not boring. Thank you for a wonderful soup recipe – that’s super easy to make in the instapot!

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