There’s a kind of a cantina steps from the square, with seven tiers of tequila behind the bar and portly waiters refilling your draining glass of Sol. The tables and chair are sticky plastic, emblazoned with Coca Cola logos, garnished with bottles of Cholula and marinating habaneros. Thank heaven a slow fan creaks overhead; it is cooler within the terra cotta walls than it is in the white streets of Merida. It was here that I slurped my first dish of sopa de lima, panacea for body and soul. I have been chasing that experience ever since that fateful day five years ago, when I learned what a decent American woman must do to keep her reputation in tact alone at a bar in Yucatan.
This recipe is adapted from two sources: The Moosewood Cookbook and Merida’s Los Dos Cooking School. I’ve taken my liberties and written down the (very tasty) results. It does not approach the ideal, but I don’t know that it’s possible to recreate the flavors of a steamy, ancient peninsula in a cold Maine kitchen. It’s a paradoxical soup that can both warm your New England bones in March and dispel some of the notorious tropical heat when enjoyed, properly picante, with a rivuleting bottle of beer and dozens of flimsy napkins papering your bare legs.
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 jalapeno, also finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 chicken breasts, grilled then pulled apart
- salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, cayenne
- 4 cups of stock ( I used turkey)
- olive oil
- 1 lime
Into my soup pot I poured a thin layer of olive oil and added the seasoned chicken breasts, cooking on medium until brown. Remove and let cool before shredding; now into the pot goes onion, garlic, jalapeno and spices. After ten minutes add the tomatoes and put the lid on for another ten minutes, until a good juicy broth has developed. Then reintroduce the chicken chicken and accompanying stock. This simmers quickly for fifteen minutes and only then add a squeeze of an entire lime, just before serving. This soup can be fancied up with avocado, fresh cheese and bits of fried tortilla or served simply as a brothy, citrus-spiked beauty of a bowl of food. Buen Provecho, mihijas.