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Chicken, Tortilla and Lime Soup

Chicken, Tortilla and Lime Soup

In this classic soup, called sopa de lima, from Mexico's Yucatan region, the chicken is not cooked directly in the soup broth because it will make it cloudy. Be careful not to add too much chile or the soup may be too fiery for comfort. You want to maintain a good balance between the tartness of the lime and the heat of the chiles. One large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced, makes a soothing garnish to the spicy broth. Although it's not authentic, 1 cup corn kernels may be added to the soup with the tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 3 corn tortillas, cut into strips 2 inches long
  • 1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 tsp. finely minced jalapeño chile, with or
      without seeds, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes
      (fresh or canned)
  • 6 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 12 paper-thin lime slices, cut into quarters

Directions:

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 1/2 quarts of the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat so the broth boils gently and boil until reduced by half to about 7 cups, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a deep-fry pan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, drop in the tortilla strips and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried tortilla strips to paper towels to drain.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken breasts with the remaining 2 cups stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the chicken is opaque throughout when cut with a knife, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Discard the broth or reserve for another use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño chile and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Add the reduced broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, and simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Sprinkle the lime pieces and tortilla strips evenly over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).