Thursday, January 5, 2012

Turkey Sopa de Lima {Yucatan Turkey Soup with Lime}

I like soup.  It's really that simple.  In the middle of winter a nice pot of soup hits the spot, in my humble opinion.  But as much as I really want a bowl of lentil soup for lunch, it's hard to convince myself that soup is a good thing when it's 80 degrees out in January.  What crazy weather we've been having here in Southern California!  I'm breaking out capri pants and tank tops for crying out loud!  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  As much as I like a good snowfall, I think I'll pick the warm sunshine.  This former Jersey girl is digging the California winters.
I could wax poetic on this glorious weather all day if no one stopped me.  But I digress...

So...I'm in the mood for soup, but the weather has me second guessing myself.  Who wants pots simmering on the stove all day heating up an already hot kitchen?  Not this girl.  I hemmed and hawed over the subject for a couple of days before deciding just to go for it.  I managed to convince myself that if the end result was light and refreshing and fit the mood of the summer-like day, then I might be able to pull off the whole soup thing.  So I went tropical (or at least Mexican, which is as close to tropical as I'm going to get for now). 

Sopa de Lima is a soup from the Yucatan region of Mexico.  It's like a tortilla soup in many ways, but just a bit fresher and tangier from the addition of the lime juice.  It's a perfect soup to pick you up from those mid-winter blahs.  And as citrus is in season right now, what better way to make use of produce at it's peak?  I did make a few changes from the traditional recipe.  Sopa de lima is typically made with chicken, but turkey thighs were super cheap in my grocery store, so I snatched a few up and they became the base for my soup.  I also decided to omit the traditional cinnamon from the broth.  Convincing my family to eat it would have been decidedly more difficult with cinnamon involved.  Though I do wonder what it would have tasted like...
Turkey Sopa de Lima
Adapted from the Seattle Times (who apparently borrowed it from the New York Times, this soup gets around!)

I used turkey for the base of my stock, but feel free to use chicken instead.  If you're really feeling pressed for time, you can use store bought low-sodium chicken broth and leftover shredded chicken and the soup will come together in about 20 minutes.  Don't skip the additional toppings- I forgot to add the pickled jalapeno slices the next day for lunch and I really missed their heat.

For the turkey stock:
3 turkey thighs (or drumsticks or a leftover carcass with the meat reserved for shredding later)
8-10 cups water
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 celery rib, cut into large pieces
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Simmer the soup, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, or until you have a flavorful stock.  Strain the stock, reserving the turkey meat for the final soup.

For the Sopa de Lima:
6 cups turkey stock
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
5 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
pinch cayenne
4 cups shredded turkey meat
4 green onions (scallions), white and light green parts thinly sliced
1/3 coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

additional toppings:
sliced avocado
thinly sliced jalapeno (I used pickled jalapenos and they were great)
lime wedges for squeezing
tortilla chips

In a large pot, heat 2 tbs canola oil.  When warm, add the onions, carrots and celery and saute the vegetables until they are soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and spices and stir for 1 minute (you'll smell them- that's how you know it's ready for the next step)

Carefully pour the stock into the pot and stir to combine.  Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Add the shredded turkey and simmer for another few minutes, just to heat it through.  Stir in the green onions and cilantro and remove the pot from the heat.

Serve the soup with a slice or two of the avocado, a few slices of jalapeno, a good squeeze of lime and few tortilla chips crumbled over the top.


  1. Mmmmmm. Sounds (and looks) so good! I'm a soup junkie, myself. I could eat (or slurp) it every day and be a very happy girl.

  2. Thanks Lisa! It was great for this weather we're having. I swear it feels like we're in Mexico- why not have some Mexican soup?