Chicken soup with vegetables and lime

Contributed by Benjamin Maring, MD

Chicken soup with vegetables and lime

Across centuries and cultures, chicken soup has been a go-to remedy for the common cold. The perceived health benefits of chicken soup are many, and are likely part placebo, part science. 

Think back on your favorite childhood chicken soup remedy memories. Remember watching the steam billow out of the soup pot? In my chicken soup memories, I am usually wrapped in a cozy blanket, preparing for a meal that wrapped me even more in love and comfort. I imagine these experiences played a big role in the healing properties of that soup.

This recipe is a variation of the classic Mexican sopa de lima. The addition of fennel and cabbage adds a little aromatic heartiness. The lime really just brightens everything, adding both amazing flavor and vitamin C, another healthful vitamin during the common cold.

Servings: 6


  • 2 to 3 pound whole chicken, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped fennel stalks
  • 5 sprigs of parsley
  • 3 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 3/4 cup diced fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup diced tomato
  • 1 cup diced green cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 quarts chicken broth, homemade or store-bought low-sodium brot
  • Juice of 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, for garnish
  • Chopped avocado, for garnish
  • Crushed tortilla chips, for garnish (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover by two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Skim the broth frequently to remove the impurities and congealed fat. 
  2. After simmering for about 45 minutes, remove the chicken. Skin the cooked chicken, separate the breast and thigh meat, and coarsely chop; set aside. Return the bones to the broth and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes or so. Strain the broth.
  3. Heat a large soup pot on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the onion and fennel. 
  5. After 3 to 4 minutes, add the jalapeno and garlic, stirring to combine. 
  6. After 1 to 2 minutes, or when the garlic is very fragrant and the onions are tender, add the tomatoes, cabbage, and dried herbs. Cook for another few minutes so the tomato can release its liquid and the cabbage starts to get tender. 
  7. Add the chicken broth and reserved chicken, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. 
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  9. Just before serving, add the lime juice. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado, and tortilla chips.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 190
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 320 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 8 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 23 g

Note: Does not include garnish.