Chicken and Lime Soup

$7.76 recipe / $1.29 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.90 from 193 votes
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I’m a soup-all-year-long type of person. Soup is tasty. Soup is filling. Soup freezes well. And this Chicken and Lime Soup is where it’s at. The clear broth is light enough for summer, and has a deliciously spicy, sour, and salty broth that will keep you coming back for more, and more, and MORE. If you want to change up your chicken soup game, this Chicken and Lime Soup is the way to go!

Originally posted 10-14-2012, updated 8-22-2019

Close up overhead view of a bowl of Chicken and Lime Soup with avocado slices, lime wedges, and tortilla chips.

This Chicken and Lime Soup was inspired by a trip to a Mexican restaurant where I had the most amazing tangy Caldo Xochitl. I added more lime because I’m a lime fiend, and it gave the soup the perfect mix between spicy, salty, and sour – that same famous combo that makes Chinese hot & sour soup so delish. There’s just something about that flavor combination that tickles all the right parts of your tongue!

Make Your Chicken and Lime Soup Mild

The recipe as written is fairly spicy. The heat comes from the jalapeño pepper and the diced tomatoes with green chiles. If you’d like to make your Chicken and Lime Soup mild, simply skip the jalapeño pepper and use a 15 oz. can of regular diced tomatoes, or fire roasted diced tomatoes, in place of the tomatoes with green chiles.

Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles Substitutes

If canned diced tomatoes with green chiles are not sold in your area, you can use a 15 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes plus one 4 oz. can of diced green chiles. Or, leave the green chiles out and use a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. You can also dice up a fresh hatch green chile and sauté that with the onion, celery, and garlic in the beginning of the recipe.

Close up of a spoonful of Chicken and Lime Soup with the bowl in the background.

Use More Chicken if Desired

Using only a small amount of meat in my recipes is kind of my calling card, so that’s what I did here. One chicken breast, shredded so you get a little bit in every spoonful, is all I needed. If you prefer more meat in your dishes, you can use two chicken breasts in this recipe without having to make any other adjustments.

Topping Your Chicken and Lime Soup

For me, topping soup with lots of stuff is half the fun, and you have a lot of topping options with this one. I wrote avocado into the recipe because I really feel like that topping is critical and really makes the soup flavors well rounded, but the rest are totally optional. When I have tortilla chips on hand, I like to use those like I would crackers in other soup, crushing them up so they can soak up that awesome broth. A little dab of sour cream would be awesome, as would a few pickled red onions.

A hand squeezing a wedge of lime into a bowl of Chicken and Lime Soup

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Chicken and Lime Soup

4.90 from 193 votes
This Chicken and Lime Soup is light, fresh, and flavorful with shredded chicken, vegetables, fresh cilantro, and a tangy lime infused broth.
Finished bowl of Chicken and Lime Soup with sliced avocado and a couple of lime wedges
Servings 6 about 1.5 cups each
Prep 10 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 10 mins


  • 1 yellow onion ($0.21)
  • 3 ribs celery (about 1/4 bunch) ($0.37)
  • 1 jalapenño ($0.17)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3/4 lb.) ($2.32)
  • 6 cups chicken broth* ($0.78)
  • 2 10oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel) ($0.90)
  • 1 tsp oregano ($0.10)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin ($0.15)
  • 1 lime ($0.22)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro ($0.40)
  • 1 avocado ($1.50)


  • Dice the onion, celery, and jalapeño (scrape the seeds out of the jalapeño before dicing). Mince the garlic. Add the onion, celery, jalapeño, garlic, and olive oil to a large soup pot and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the chicken breast, chicken broth, diced tomatoes with chiles (with juices), oregano, and cumin to the pot. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the broth up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the pot simmer for 45 minutes.
  • After simmering for 45 minutes, carefully remove the chicken breast from the pot and use two forks to shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the pot. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup (2-3 Tbsp juice).
  • Rinse the cilantro and then roughly chop the leaves. Add the chopped cilantro to the soup, give it a quick stir, then serve. Slice the avocado and add a few slices to each bowl.

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*I use Better Than Bouillon chicken soup base to make my broth because it is less expensive than buying canned or boxed broths.


Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 202.58kcalCarbohydrates: 12.35gProtein: 15.9gFat: 11.27gSodium: 1289.98mgFiber: 3.73g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up of a bowl of Chicken and Lime Soup with garnishes and a black spoon in the middle


How to Make Chicken and Lime Soup – Step By Step Photos

Celery, onion, jalapeño and garlic on a cutting board
Dice one yellow onion, three ribs of celery, and one jalapeño. Mince four cloves of garlic.

Remove ribs and seeds from jalapeño

Before dicing the jalapeño, slice it in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the white ribs and seeds. These are the hottest parts of the jalapeño, so removing them first will give you a little more jalapeño flavor and a little less heat.

Onion, celery, jalapeño, and garlic in soup pot with olive oil

Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, and garlic to a large soup pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Chicken broth being poured into the soup pot over a chicken breast.
Add one boneless, skinless chicken breast to the pot (about 3/4 lb.). Then add 6 cups chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon so I can mix up any amount needed at any time). 

A can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
Next, add two 10 oz. cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles. If you can only find 15 oz cans, you can use one. Or, if you can not find canned diced tomatoes with green chiles, you can either use diced tomatoes and one 4 oz. can of green chiles, or just use fire roasted diced tomatoes.

Add cumin and oregano to the soup pot.
In addition to the diced tomatoes with green chiles, also add 1/2 Tbsp cumin and 1 tsp dried oregano.

Simmered chicken and lime soup

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer for 45 minutes (lid on).

Shred chicken on a cutting board with two knives.
After simmering for 45 minutes, the chicken should be tender enough to shred. Carefully remove it from the pot to a clean cutting board, then use two forks to shred the meat into small pieces. Return the shredded meat to the soup pot.

Squeezing half lime into the soup.

Squeeze the juice from one lime (about 2-3 Tbsp) into the broth. To get the most juice out of the lime, I like to cut it in half, squeeze as much by hand, then insert a spoon into the lime and twist to squeeze out the rest.

Stir fresh cilantro into the soup
Rinse the cilantro to make sure there’s no sand hiding in there, then give it a rough chop. You don’t have to take the time to carefully remove all stems. Cilantro stems are tender enough to enjoy. Stir the cilantro into the soup.

Finished bowl of Chicken and Lime Soup with sliced avocado and a couple of lime wedges

Slice the avocado and add a few slices to each bowl just before serving! Enjoy!

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  1. Made this today and it’s fantastic! Very flavorful but also easy to make! I used some homemade chicken broth I had in the freezer.

  2. This one is a hard one for me to judge. I made it in the instant pot, followed all the steps and ingredients, but just put it on high pressure for 10 minutes instead of boiling it for 45 minutes. The chicken came out tender, but the soup was quite bland. I had the lime, cilantro, avocado, corn chips…but still something was missing. Not sure if it was because of the instant pot or not. Will try to boil it down a bit more.

  3. This soup was excellent. I used pickled jalapeños and regular diced tomatoes because I had them but everything else the same (a little grated lime peel) and it is so good. Thank you for all the goodness 😋

  4. My favorite soup ever! I modified it by using one can of diced tomatoes w/ green chiles and one can of diced tomatoes w/ jalapenos then omitting the jalapeno as well as adding a can of corn. Delicous!

  5. Made this but made rice and added canned corn, double the limes and the cumin, and added a few bayleaves to the broth. Seared the chicken with garlic and onions because I had frozen chicken. Thanks for sharing, this is a good and cheap recipe that I have added to my rotation!

  6. I have made this soup numerous times now and it’s a hit with the while family! I do not use jalapeños though. Thank you so much for this recipe! 💗

  7. This is one of my new favorite soups! I brought some to work for lunch and everyone walking past the lunchroom commented on how good it smelled. I’m a fiend for cilantro and lime.

    I substituted low sodium broth and no salt canned tomatoes with a can of hatch green chiles because I am on a low sodium diet. Still tastes great with some tortilla chips crumbled on top! It reminds me of the excellent soup from my local Mexican restaurant that is now too salty for me to eat. :’)

  8. Can’t wait to try this! It looks delicious! Do you think this could be made in the Instant Pot?

    1. You need a certain amount of empty space in the pot in order for pressure to build. We haven’t made this recipe in the Instant Pot, so we don’t have the correct measurements to share. XOXO -Monti

  9. I have made this soup multiple times over the last couple of years. It’s excellent as written. Sometimes I’ll add in some shredded cabbage or diced zucchini to get some extra veggies in. One of my favorite recipes!

  10. This meal is literally perfect. I’ve been trying to branch out more with my cooking and eat less red meat. The instructions are simple and straight forward. Only strayed from the recipe once and it was because I ran out of chicken stock. I substituted the last two cups of broth with two cups of water and two chicken bullion cubes–it came out perfectly. Overall, I’m really satisfied with how well this recipe turned out. 100% will be making it again!

  11. Wowza, so good! I made the soup exactly as written and wouldn’t change a thing. Loved the avocado and some crushed up tortilla chips as toppings!

  12. One of my absolute favorite soups. The flavor is insane and it couldn’t be easier to make. I eat it all the time but it’s also perfect for when you start feeling under the weather…the gentle heat clears out your nose and the freshness just hits the spot.

  13. This soup was packed with flavor! Delicious and nutritious. I highly recommend this for a quick, easy to make meal that the whole family will love.

  14. Great all-year-around soup recipe. Cilantro and lime are so fresh it doesn’t even matter it’s a hot soup in the summer!