Chicken and lime soup with tortillas recipe

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The Yucatán was home to the ancient Mayans, and their reliance on and reverence for corn and tortillas is one of the aspects of their culture that has remained to this day. Following the introduction of citrus by the Spanish, limes made their way into this culture and are used in this recipe.

  • Yield: 12 portions (8 oz/portion)  garnishes


For Making the Broth
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • ½ stick Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • ½ tsp Allspice Berries, whole
  • 2 lbs Chicken Carcasses, Wings, or Other Bones
  • 2.5 lbs Chicken Breasts, bone-in (approx 2 unsplit breasts)
  • 0.5 lb Onion, sliced
  • 1 oz Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 0.25 lb Limes (preferably Yucatan bitter limes, called lima agria, or key limes)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 tsp Salt
For Making the Soup
  • 1 lb Tomatoes
  • 1 Habanero Chili (substitute 2 serranos, if this chili is unavailable)
  • 2 Poblano Chiles
  • 2.5 qts Chicken Broth Chicken Breast Meat, pulled or diced medium
  • 0.5 lb Limes (preferably Mexican limes or key limes), juiced Salt, to taste
For Garnishes
  • ½ cup Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • 0.25 lb Limes (preferably Mexican limes or key limes), sliced
  • 1 lb Avocados, diced
  • 8 Corn Tortillas, cut into strips and fried until crisp
How to Make It
    For Making the Broth
  1. Toast the cumin, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and allspice berries in a dry sauté pan over a medium-low flame, until the cumin begins to pop and/or the spices begin to release a distinct aroma (be careful not to burn them!).
  2. Combine the toasted spices along with all of the other ingredients in an appropriately sized pot.
  3. Bring the whole pot to a simmer over a medium-high flame, and then turn the heat down to a gentle poach; lightly poach for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts from the broth, and set them aside to cool in the refrigerator (uncovered).
  5. Continue to simmer the broth for another hour; turn off the heat and strain the broth through cheesecloth.
  6. For Making the Soup
  7. On a dry griddle (set to 400 degree F) or in a dry sauté pan, char the tomatoes until their skin becomes loose and they blacken slightly; set aside.
  8. Fire roast the chiles over a flame or on the dry griddle until they are blackened or charred on the exterior; immediately place them in a container and cover them with plastic wrap. Once they have cooled, slide the charred skin off using your hands (wear gloves!).
  9. Roughly chop the tomatoes, slice the poblano chiles into strips, and mince the habaneros. Combine all of these with the chicken broth, chicken meat, and lime juice, and bring the entire mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
  10. Adjust seasoning with salt.
  11. Serve with garnishes on the side.

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