A true gem of the gastronomy from Merida, Yucatan. The Lime soup is made with citrus limetta, also known as sweet limes, and not to be confused with lemons. The origin of this soup is unknown, but we know that the limes were brought by the Spaniards to the Yucatan peninsula. We can say with all certainty that this recipe is a result of the mixture of the two cultures – Mayan and Spanish.
Whilst the ingredients and preparation make it feel like a bowl of standard chicken soup, the limes and tortillas transform this dish into a complex and fragrant experience. People like to say that good food is tasted will all five senses, well this dish gets top marks for aroma. It somehow reminds me of the amazing and aromatic dishes from Thailand and Vietnam.
Whilst there is no exact substitute for the sweet limes from the Yucatan, you can certainly use a mix of normal lime, lemon, and oranges. I have come across citrus limetta at grocery shops that carry products from India and the Middle-East, they come under the names limoo shirin or mousambi too. Apart from this, you can replace the chicken for turkey – which seems to the traditional recipe, and brown onion for white or red. Red onion is used extensively in the Yucatan cuisine, but for this dish, we want to focus the attention in the limes and tortillas.
- 4 nixtamal corn tortillas cut into strips and fried
- 60 ml canola oil
- 2 skinless chicken breasts
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 3 garlic cloves finely diced
- 2 medium brown onions chopped
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 2 jalapeño chillies seeded, veins removed and chopped – replace with serrano or long green chillies
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano crumbled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 sweet limes plus 1 more thinly sliced, to garnish – if you can’t find sweet limes then use 4 limes, and include the juice of 1 lemon and ½ orange
- 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander chopped and lightly packed
- salt to taste
- Simmer the chicken breast, garlic, oregano, coriander, and salt in 2 litres of water for about one hour. Then remove the chicken and strain the stock.
- When the chicken has cooled down, shred the meat removing any skin, fat, and bones.
- Chop the onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes, and sauté in oil in a large saucepan until onions have softened and become transparent.
- Add back the chicken stock from step one, add the juice of the six sweet limes, the chicken stock cubes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the shredded chicken
- Server the soup with tortilla strips and a slice or two of fresh lime.