Spicy Chicken-and-Lime Soup

Spicy Chicken-and-Lime Soup
Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins

With a fresh and spicy homemade broth and an array of colorful and crunchy toppings, here's a soup to warm up even the chilliest of evenings. This recipe uses a whole bird, making it not only a satisfying meal, but an economical one too. Starting with a cut up whole chicken helps prevent meat from overcooking. Ask your butcher to cut it into parts or follow our guide.


  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into 8 parts

  • 1 onion, skin on, cut into quarters

  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into thirds

  • 6 cloves garlic, skins on

  • 2 jalapeños, 1 halved lengthwise, 1 thinly sliced

  • 10 cilantro sprigs, plus ⅓ cup chopped leaves and stems

  • Kosher salt

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into ¼-inch strips

  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced, for serving

  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced, for serving

  • cup crumbled cotija, for serving


  1. Fill a large pot with 14 cups water; add chicken, onion, carrots, garlic, halved jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt and bring to a boil. Skim foam, reduce heat, and gently simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer all chicken pieces except backbone to a cutting board; continue simmering broth while you remove and discard skin and remove meat from bones. Cover meat and refrigerate; return bones to pot and simmer until broth is reduced by half, about 1 hour.

  2. Strain broth through a fine‐mesh sieve; discard solids (including bones). Skim fat; transfer broth to a clean pot. (You should have 8 cups; if you don't have enough, add water.)

  3. Heat 1 inch oil in a pot over medium‐high until it reaches 375 degrees on a thermometer. Add one‐third of tortilla strips and cook until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper‐towel‐lined plate; season with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips.

  4. Shred cooled chicken into 3 cups of bite‐size pieces (reserve remainder for another use). Add to broth along with sliced jalapeño, chopped cilantro, tomatoes, and lime juice. Heat through, about 2 minutes; season with salt. Serve topped with avocados, radishes, cotija, and fried tortilla strips.

Cook's Notes

For a less spicy soup, remove the jalapeno seeds before using and add a few seeds back in at a time to taste. This recipe will make a little extra chicken than you need; use it up in a stir-fry or this quick quesadilla.

Related Articles