chicken & lime soup

$6.39 recipe / $1.07 serving

It’s soup season and I couldn’t be happier. Soup is tasty. Soup is filling. Soup freezes well. Soup is where it’s at.

This is kind of a remake of my old caldo xochitl recipe, but better. A recent trip to a Mexican restaurant made me want to redo this recipe and add more lime, among other things. What we have here is the perfect mix between spicy, salty, and sour – that same famous combo that makes Chinese hot & sour soup so delish. I highly suggest adding a few cubes of avocado because the creaminess perfectly balances the other sharp flavors. If avocados aren’t affordable, try sour cream or some cheese.

This soup really doesn’t need a whole lot of chicken because it’s shredded, which means that you’ll have a little chicken in every spoonful. I used only one chicken breast that was about .75 pounds. And before you ask, I bought the chicken breast on special for $1.87 per pound. These sales aren’t always around, but when they are you have to take advantage and just stock up your freezer. Keep your eyes peeled for deals, they’re out there!

Chicken & Lime Soup

Chicken & Lime Soup

4.9 from 30 reviews

chicken & lime soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $6.39
Cost Per Serving: $1.07
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.24
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 stalks celery $0.45
  • 1 medium jalapeno $0.09
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • ¾ lb. chicken breast $1.46
  • 6 cups chicken broth* $0.42
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/chiles $0.95
  • 1 tsp oregano $0.05
  • ½ Tbsp cumin $0.08
  • 1 medium lime $0.33
  • ½ bunch cilantro $0.43
  • 1 medium avocado $1.29
  1. Dice the onion, celery, and jalapeno (scrape the seeds out of the jalapeno before dicing). Mince the garlic. Cook the onion, celery, jalapeno, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add the chicken breast, chicken broth, canned tomatoes with chiles, oregano, and cumin to the pot. Bring the whole pot up to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to low, place a lid on top, and let simmer for one hour.
  3. After simmering for an hour with a lid on, carefully remove the chicken breast from the pot and use two forks to shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup. Get as much juice as possible from the lime by using a spoon to scrape the inside of the lime.
  4. Rinse the cilantro and then roughly chop the leaves. Add to the pot, give it a quick stir, and serve. Dice the avocado and add a few chunks to each bowl.
*I use Better Than Bouillon chicken soup base to make my broth because it is less expensive than buying canned or boxed broths.

Chicken & Lime Soup

Step By Step Photos

onion celery garlic jalapenoDice the onion, celery, and jalapeno. Mince the garlic. Add all four to a pot with olive oil and saute until tender. I actually forgot the jalapeno until a little bit later, so you won’t see it in the picture just yet :P

add chickenAdd the chicken breast. I only used one chicken breast that weighed about .75 lbs. Not at lot, but there is so much flavor in the soup that it doesn’t matter!

diced tomato with chilesI used a generic brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles. If you can’t find this at your store, you can use a can of diced tomatoes and a small (4 oz.) can of diced green chiles. You can usually find the green chiles in the Hispanic foods section of most grocery stores. They’re mild, but have a LOT of flavor.

soupSo, along with that chicken breast and canned tomatoes with chiles add the chicken broth, oregano, and cumin. Bring the whole pot up to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for one hour with a lid on top to hold in the moisture.

shred chickenAfter simmering for an hour, the chicken should be tender enough to shred. Just use two forks to pull it apart into shreds. Return the shredded chicken to the soup.

cilantroRinse the cilantro to make sure there’s no sand hiding in there then roughly chop it. It’s okay if you get a little stem action, they’re not rough.

add limeAdd the chopped cilantro and the juice of one lime. You want a good amount of lime juice so make sure you squeeze that sucker dry. You can roll it around on the counter top (with pressure) a bit before cutting it open to help the juices flow. I also like to twist a spoon into the flesh to break it up and squeeze even more juice out.

Chicken & Lime SoupServe with some cubed avocado… and maybe some tortilla strips or sour cream or Mexican cheese. It’s up to you!


  1. My type of soup! I love it!

  2. Jessica says:

    Oh! I will be making this tomorrow! My grocery store has a very similar sale on chicken this week, so the timing is perfect!

  3. Looks yummy! Do you think this could work in the crock pot if the amount of liquid was reduced?

  4. Leanne – I was thinking about that the whole time I was making the soup :) I don’t think you’d even have to reduce the amount of broth, although you could if you wanted a slightly thicker soup. Just pop everything into the slow cooker (minus the lime and cilantro) and let it go for about 4 hours on high or 8 on low. Shred the chicken then stir in the lime juice and cilantro and you’re done!

  5. I’m going to try this in the crock pot. It will be easy to double and freeze, I think.

  6. Soups like this are so pretty! Looks delicious!

  7. Anonymous says:

    My husband is allergic to cilantro :c What do you suggest to replace this (spinach?) or could i just add it like a garnish at the end? -Ashley

  8. Toni H. says:

    Currently making this and using the soup to poach frozen chicken breasts. I’m planning on adding a bit of frozen corn and black beans, too, to stretch it a bit. Looks like another hit, Beth!

  9. Anonymous – I would just add the cilantro to each bowl (except your husbands, of course!). The cilantro is there for flavor, so spinach wouldn’t do the job.

  10. I’ve had cilantro sitting in my fridge waiting to be used. This recipe was perfect to use it up. I used two chicken breasts, no celery, and reduced the broth by two cups to make a thicker soup. Delicious! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  11. Jenn H says:

    I had half a deli roast chicken left over in my fridge, so this recipe came along at just the right time. I chucked the whole carcass in and let it boil away, then pulled it out and tossed the shredded meat back in. Delicious! The 2 tbsp. of lime juice give it a great acidic kick.

  12. Yum, perfect comfort food.

    You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme. New theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  13. Colleen says:

    To make it even cheaper get the chicken breast from a whole chicken you cut up yourself. That should be about .89 a pound. Also, make the chicken broth yourself from the carcass of that chicken.

  14. This soup sounds so good! I’ve been thinking about tortilla soup variations lately, and I think this just pushed me over the edge to actually making it. :)

  15. Anonymous says:

    I always add about 1/4 C of masa harina to 1/2 cup of the broth (I remove the broth to a small cup at end of cooking time) and whisk it in. Then put the mixture into the soup pot and whisk it. It thickens it up a bit and gives it that authentic flavor I love in this type of soup. I like to add a cup of corn kernels, too.

  16. Dixie G says:

    I made this but added a can of black beans to give it a little more substance. Delicious! Thanks so much!

  17. Anonymous says:

    This looks delicious! Can’t wait to make it :) I’d love to compair how much it costs to make some of your receipes here in Australia. Because chicken here (at some places and sometimes they’re the only ones with any chicken left) cost me $19.99/kg last night!

  18. Anonymous says:
  19. Beth – just made this today in the crock pot and was AMAZING! I doubled the recipe for my giant crock pot and found when I added the second can of tomatoes I didn’t need most of the broth to fill it. Set it on high for 5 hours while deep cleaning the house and it is now probably my new fave crock pot meal. Looking forward to freezing for the rest of the winter

  20. Diana says:

    Anonymous, I like to throw regular parsley into soups at the end, it adds a bit of mild flavor, but also that taste of something a bit fresher than fully cooked soup.

  21. I’m making this tomorrow!!!

  22. Beth – this was AMAZING. I added in some extra veg I had in my fridge including a bag of spinach at the end so it just wilted (along w/ the cilantro and lime) and I really enjoyed the extra green in there. Also added a carrot that probably wasn’t necessary, but helped use it up =)

  23. I made this earlier this week and it came out great! My store was out of green chiles so I used a can of jalapenos and omitted the ones at the start and it turned out quite hot. Luckily there was some sour cream in the fridge!

    The avocado was the perfect touch.

  24. Just made this tonight and it is DELICIOUS! I like the idea of black beans that others mentioned. Also, this may have just been me, but my chicken turned out a little dry.

  25. janmaus says:

    Perfect as written, although I sometimes add a bit of corn and/or black beans,or even some diced carrot to get some veggies into my grandsons. When additionally garnished with tortilla strips and a bit of crumbled or grated cheese, this is what most folks in the Austin area call tortilla soup. Here in NC, our favorite local Mexican restaurant adds rice to the basic recipe for a heartier soup. We could eat this several times a week!

  26. easy chicken recipes says:

    What else is there to ask for? So flavorful and aromatic at the same time. I just love the smell celery on broth. Simple yet wonderful chicken dish.

  27. Soup was amazing! I used green bell pepper instead of the jalapeno (wanted to feed it to my toddler too) and since I didn’t have cilantro handy, I used fresh parsley and it was divine!! Definitely a repeat recipe! Very easy too :) Served with tortilla strips and sour cream on the side, if desired! Yummm

  28. I just made this last night, and it was INCREDIBLE, Beth. I added some red kidney beans and sweetcorn to give it some more substance. The chicken was perfect, juicy & tender, and I used freshly ground cumin. Posted my photo of it immediately on Facebook with a link to your recipe, and several of my friends have now bookmarked your blog!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Love this soup! I’m a college student so money is always tight, and this recipe allows for left-overs, which is always a plus! SO GOOD!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    I’ve made this soup 3 times so far, it’s great! I keep adding stuff to mix it up a bit – my favorite so far has been a soft boiled egg. The yolk mixes in with the broth and adds some great depth. I also spice it up with Sambal Oelek. If I’m making it extra spicy I add avacado to balance it. Delicious!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to stop by and say I made this soup tonight, and it is delicious! I added some black beans and a bell pepper that I had on hand. Other than that, followed the recipe. I have to admit, I thought it was going to be bland because it is a simple recipe, but it is not at all. SO flavorful. Thanks! And yum!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Delicious!! Thank you so much!

  33. Molly says:

    I used this recipe as a jumping-off point for some deeelicious burritos. I only added 2c of chicken broth and a good bit of thai seasoning, which gave it a different kick. I combined it with jasmine rice and stuffed our wraps full of the mixture. So good we ate it three days in a row!

  34. Now that the weather is getting a lot colder soup seems like the perfect choice. Thanks for this chicken and lime soup recipe.

  35. jennifer says:

    how would you recommend doing this in a slow cooker? like on what setting/for how long/add what when? love your blog! everything i’ve made has turned out amazing.

  36. Jennifer – Put everything into the slow cooker except the cilantro and lime juice. Cook on high for four hours or low for eight. After cooking, shred the chicken and then stir in the lime juice and cilantro. That should work! :)

  37. this was great. the batch i made lasted us 3 separate meals (just my husband and i) he loved it!

  38. Really enjoyed this last night as an alternative to the more labor intensive hot & sour soup that is one of our cold weather staples. Used less cumin, but instead added some paprika and a splash of rooster sauce for a different kind of added heat. Will definitely make it again.

  39. Another great recipe! I added some carrots and doubled the recipe. It came out great! Can’t wait for another bowl tonight!

  40. Yum! I made this tonight with leftover turkey and turkey stock. Spicy, warm, and delicious.

  41. Delicious! I just made it tonight. I subbed jarred jalapenos. Perfect for a cool night. :) I love the avocado in the mix! Thanks for being so awesome, Beth!

  42. Anonymous says:

    This is by far the most delicious soup I’ve gotten online!

  43. Yummm! Gotta try this soon.

  44. I just pinned this! :-) It looks amazing!

  45. Anonymous says:

    I’m with Eileen – make your own stock! Pick 2 roast chickens clean (I keep them in the freezer until i have two) throw them in a crock pot with a carrot, celery, ground pepper, any other veggie bits in your fridge that are looking a bit wilted, almost cover the chicken with water, let it cook on low for 8hrs. Freeze until you need it.

    Price? Free! You are making stock that is WAY better than salty bouillion, and you’re making it from garbage. Once you try thus you’ll never go back.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Here is a way to improve this delicious soup even further and make it even cheaper: if you buy a bone-in skin-on chicken brest and use it instead of the boneless skin-off, you don’t need to use boxed or canned chicken broth or soup base.

  47. so this was the first thing I made from Budget Bytes and boy am I not surprised it made the top 20!

  48. Ok, I love the original Caldo Xolichi (?) version and I was excited to try this one, and it’s basically amazing except…. the jalapeno, completely unnecessary and it makes the soup almost too hot to eat! I may have gotten a really hot one or something but man o man!!!! Oh and DEFINITELY add black beans to this soup!!!!!!!!!!

  49. You’re right – this is a seriously awesome soup, and so easy to prepare. I’ve got it simmering on the stovetop as I write this :)

  50. Made this soup over the weekend and it was delicious! I used lime juice instead of lime and it came out great, though I’m sure real lime would’ve been better. Thanks for another great recipe!

  51. This recipe is great! i made it 3 time already and everyone loves it…but i was just wondering what would be a good side to have with it?

  52. Joey – Since there’s nothing starchy in the soup, I think some corn bread or even grilled corn on the cob would be a nice side!

  53. Dave says:

    I made this soup last week, and it was very good! Thanks for posting this one!

  54. Carol Anderson says:

    This soup is AMAZING! So easy and full of taste! It is my husband’s favorite, he requests it all the time! Well done!

  55. Geniene says:

    I made this recipe with my left over oven roasted fajita chicken and veggies. It was spectacular and even more affordable!

  56. Derek says:

    Beginner here and have been loving your site. When using the better than bouillon for a recipe like this, do I need to boil the water and make the broth before adding to the pot of veggies?

    Or can I just add the water and paste together and let it boil after softening the veggies?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • I usually use the second technique – just throw everything in together and the Better Than Bouillon will dissolve in as you stir and cook. No need to do it separately. :)

  57. Krissy says:

    Made it with vegi broth and tofu and instead of dead animal and it was delish !

  58. jacki says:

    Absolutely loved this. So flavorful and not too heavy. Love the cilantro and lime. I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on each serving and served with tortilla chips. My husband said it was like ‘fresh salsa soul’s (a compliment).

  59. Julie says:

    I made this and it was DELICIOUS but my chicken was rubbery/chewy. Has anyone else had this problem when boiling chicken breast?

    • I would try simmering the chicken in the soup longer before shredding it. It sounds like it just needed a little more time for the connective tissues to break down and become tender.

  60. Your pumpkin bread in the oven and your soup on the stove! Thank you….and I picked the hottest day of the year to think fall. Oh we’ll, sounded good.

  61. meagan says:

    I followed this recipe except I didn’t put celery because I was out and didn’t want to run to the store for one ingredient. I added hominy to the soup for added texture and boy oh boy it was so delicious!!!

  62. Angela says:

    This soup is amazing! It has just enough kick for me!

  63. Marybeth says:

    The best chicken & lime soup!! Even my husband, who doesnt like soup asked to keep it on the dinner list. :)
    Thank you so much!!!

  64. I can see this being a really good crock pot recipe too on busy days. I’m not a soup eater but I’m starting to venture into the “soup world” more. This looks delicious!

  65. Shari says:

    I just made this soup and it is soooo delicious. I mad a big batch and going to freeze the rest.

  66. Hannah says:

    If I can’t find the diced tomatoes with green Chilis, would a can of rotel work?

  67. Lisa G says:

    If U like el pollo loco’s soup, this is as close as U can get to making it. this is really food, I left out the jalapeno, but it was spicey enough for me with the can of rotel I used. I added a can of corn as well. I will make this a lot this winter. thanks for sharing.

  68. Stacy says:

    This is my go-to soup when I’m not feeling well, so I always have some in the freezer. Thanks for the great recipe.

  69. I found your blog tonight and went on a crazy pinning spree!! Thank you for all of your hard work here! It’s super apparent. Yum! I can’t wait to get cooking!!

  70. Chrisat says:

    You were right about the lime juice. I added three limes and it was so good. Although, I’m sad to say I used canned chicken broth. I had no time, but I will make some in the future.

  71. Laura says:

    Is the cooking time the same if your chicken is already cooked? I want to make this tonight using leftovers from beer can chicken last night and don’t want the chicken to be mushy. Ok to leave it in for the whole hour or add it in later? thanks!

    • Nope, if your chicken is already cooked, you’ll only need to cook for 30 minutes or so – enough time for everything to heat through and blend.

  72. rachel says:

    making this now…smells amazing! Did add some corn in there as I have 2 healthy men here who like food! LOL. May also slice & bake some flour tortillas for a little crunch ; )

  73. Marina says:

    Thank you Beth for this fantastic webpage full of good ideas!! People like you makes life easier.

    I’ll try to do this soup tonight!!

  74. This smells fabulous in the kitchen right now! I must confess, I had to sample it before it was done. Delicious! I was thinking of adding some orzo… about how much (dry) orzo would you add to this amount of soup? Thank you for your fabulous recipes :)

    • I think I’d add about a half cup so that it doesn’t overwhelm the soup. There will just be some floating around in there. If you want it heartier, go for a cup.

  75. julia says:

    Excellent combination! Just prepared it for dinner, a pity I didn`t have advocado. Next time I will add it, and some more chicken too!
    From Madrid, Spain

  76. I have made this once a week since 8/31/2013. So good. And its not expensive. Its just the two of us but the leftovers are even better the second time around. :-)

  77. Carly says:

    I just made this last night and it was SO GOOD! I want to eat it for the rest of my life. Forever. Thanks for the recipe. Love your site!

  78. Made this for lunch today. It was super tasty! (Bonus: inexpensive, too!) This will definitely be on regular rotation from here forward. Thanks for the recipe!

  79. Lynn says:

    Thank you SOO Much for this recipe <3 This was my first time attempting to make soup and it came out fantastic.

  80. Ashley says:

    Beth, this looks delicious. I was searching for a meal to use at a freezer meal swap (need to make 13 meals) and this has been the best recipe by far on price and flavor. Have you frozen this soup before, and if so do I make it as directed but leave out the cilantro or is okay to add?

    • Yes, this freezes great, minus the cilantro. You’ll definitely want to add that fresh, after reheating. :) (but even if you don’t, it will still taste amazing!)

  81. Louise says:

    I just made this wonderful soup with my turkey leftovers and homemade turkey stock. I can’t stop eating it! I love it!
    Thank you!

  82. Genelle says:

    YUMM! I found this on my pinterest feed and I am so glad I did! I had all the ingredients on hand and it was very easy to make! Thanks! Delicious!!

  83. alix says:

    I made this yesterday and I have to say, it is amazing! I was snowed in (ok, not exactly but there was a bit of snow on the ground and it was way too cold for me to want to go outside haha) so i did not want to go out and get diced tomatoes w/chiles, so i just used a can of regular diced tomatoes. It was still awesome! Even my boyfriend (who can be a little picky) thought it was the best soup ever. Then for dinner I made a taco bowl for myself and your Jambalaya for my boyfriend. I’m so happy I have found your website. I don’t even bother looking anywhere else for recipes. thank you!

  84. I just made this tonight and it’s delicious! Got if off Pinterest too. I’m in Arizona so I was happy to pick a jalapeno in the back yard (a pretty zippy one it turns out). This is definitely going in my “make again” file!

  85. evelyn says:

    Thanks for a great recipe! I didn’t have any cilantro, but oh well, this was an easy recipe that I will definitely be making it again.

  86. Heather says:

    I’m in France and there’s no tomatoes with chiles to be found- any ideas for substitutes? I can’t wait to make this otherwise, it looks delish :)

    • I would try to look for canned green chiles on their own (plus a can of diced tomatoes on their own) or perhaps you can find fresh mild green chiles.

  87. This was amazing and SO EASY! Definitely going to be a new regular in my repertoire.

  88. Rachel says:

    This was delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  89. jcnkc says:

    I’ve made this recipe twice now in roughly a month. It’s fantastic! Bright flavors and lovely for pulling out of the freezer when you’re feeling under the weather. Thanks so much for posting. It’s a new favorite for the girlfriend and I, for sure!

  90. I made this for my boyfriend over the weekend. He said I “knocked it out of the park” and if he had to chose one thing to eat for an entire year, this would be it. I knew he loved me before but now he REALLY loves me. Thank you Beth!

    I’m with commenter meagan and am going to add hominy next time for a little more texture, otherwise fantastic.

  91. Mallory says:

    Made this last night and added rice. I wish i had not cause it soaked up too much of the broth, but next time would chose instead to put in corn. It was challenging, i dont cook with onions often and cried like a baby, then i cut up the jalapeno and accidentally scratched the inside of my nose and rubbed my eye even though i washed my hands. It still burned something fierce. most painful meal i have cooked but still tasty. I loved it.

  92. I only have vegetable broth on hand. Do you think this is ok to use or should I run out for chicken broth? Excited to try this!

  93. Keke says:

    I just made this using the slow cooker. I used about 8 cups of broth and just threw all of the ingredients in (minus the avocado, cilantro, and lime, which I added at the end). I also added uncooked brown rice and carrots to the slow cooker. Didn’t use cumin. Left a few of the jalapeño seeds for spice. Came out great!

  94. Dee S says:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I’m glad I doubled the recipe. I added canned black beans to give it more bulk, but that was the only change I made. So easy. Healthy and low-calorie, too!

  95. Christy says:

    I just wanted to let you know that this soup is amazing!!! Even my picky eaters ate their share and wanted more, next time I will either double the batch. Well, if I want left over I might have to triple it! (I have teenage boys that love to eat!)

  96. Hi Beth, new to the site and loving it! It’s snowy and blustery out- too cold to trek to the store for one ingredient. Perfect soup weather ;)

    So….do you think I can sub my home-made salsa for the can of diced tomato w. green chili’s?

    (Granted it has gone thru the food-processor and isn’t chunky, but made with diced tomato & green chilis, among other things. It’s the pioneer woman’s restaurant salsa for any of you salsa lovers, stuff is ADDICTIVE)

    Thanks for your advice, and keep up the great blog!

  97. This soup is amazing. Made it yesterday for lunch, then the family and I finished it off for dinner. Now, I’m making another batch for lunch today! So good. Thanks for giving us such amazingly delicious and economical recipes!

  98. Susan says:

    I made this in the slow cooker today. Truly great. I added the lime juice about 30 minutes before eating it and added the cilantro at the very end. Before I added the lime juice and a bit of salt, the soup was REALLY hot…too hot. With the juice and salt, it had a milder heat. I had to have a bowl before I even made my flour tortillas to go with the soup (Rick Bayless’s recipe, and they are easy and good).

  99. Suzanne says:

    This was a hit. I didn’t add the jalapeno, though– plenty of heat without it!

  100. Nani says:

    So good! Just made this and OMG !! Thank you for the recipe. I added corn and more lime. Delicious!

  101. This was my first recipe I’ve made from your website and holy schmoly was it good! I’m sick with a cold or allergies, I’m really not sure which one it is, so I’m congested. I figured I might as well find something with some kick to see if it helped.

    Well this did! I followed the recipe exactly other than adding 3 chicken breasts total as I needed to use them up but this was delicious and I’m going to make it over and over!

Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: