Chicken and Lime Soup

$7.76 recipe / $1.29 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.91 from 204 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!

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

4.91 from 204 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 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 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. I, too, have been making this recipe for several years and have not posted a review. This is one of the best “tortilla soup” recipes I have found. I live deep in the heart of Texas, and tortilla soup is a staple around here. However, I prefer the clear or light broth version that a certain Tex-Mex restaurant founded in Austin serves vs. the darker broth recipes. This is pretty darn close to the soup served in that restaurant. I also add corn, zucchini and carrots and top with some shredded Monterrey Jack (along with the avocado and tortilla chips.)
    I seriously have not tried a bad recipe here. Thank you!

  2. I’m a lead hostess gringa that often runs food :). Mi hermanos en la cocina served me a chicken soup. Amazing. I’m trying this to possibly get close….im adding zucchini and yellow squash like he did. I only had Serrano pepper so I added w/o seeds. Hopeful. The cilantro and slightly spicy broth made me cook again

  3. Amazing! I just got married and am working on upping my meal prep game for my husband. This is a winner! I did a non-spicy version with half the tomatoes (to be gentle with his acid reflux) and extra chicken.

  4. Delicious! Less salty than the soup I get from the Mexican restaurant and much less expensive when made in a batch and frozen. I used poblano peppers instead of jalapeños and used no salt fire roasted canned diced tomatoes. Unbelievably good! Will add to fave recipe board!

  5. I’ve been making this recipe for many years now and it never fails to disappoint. I’ve started adding white rice to the soup to make it a little more filling. So delicious.

  6. Can anyone tell my what size pot is needed? Would a 4 liter (or 4 quart) pot be big enough?

    1. Yes, this recipe makes about 9 cups total, so 4-quart should be good. :)

      1. Thank you for the quick response! I tried the soup, it is delicious! I added some black beans and a little cooked black rice for some extra carbs, we love it!

  7. Just realized that I’ve been making this for 9 years now and never left a comment! This is so good that I’ve made it both in summer and winter. There’s room to add more ingredients to your liking, or incredible as is! The best part was it was so easy to make 9 years ago as a mom to an infant and on a tight budget. Fast forward to now when my husband was a part of a company wide layoff, I knew exactly what to make to save on groceries. Thanks so much for all of your recipes, but especially this one!

  8. THIS SOUP! It’s one of my absolute favourites. The recipe is perfect exactly as written. 5 stars!

  9. This is a favorite at my house. I’ve had extra people show up and I added a can of black beans and some frozen corn to bulk it up and everyone still loves it. I don’t deseed the jalapeño as we like it spicy. Its good with grated cheese on top, too!

  10. Woaaaah!!! This one is a hit! The flavour is SO INTENSE. Maybe our jalapeño was just particularly good, but this soup is spicy and sour. Don’t skip the avocado or cilantro because they really balance it out! I actually can’t believe how phenomenally this tastes after only simmering for 45 minutes. Perfect summery soup for impromptu dinner guests.

  11. I love this recipe! This soup is not only DELICIOUS but so easy and quick! I think I have made this soup once a month since discovering it in December. Yum