My wife lived on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico for four years and is a connoisseur of all things Mayan. She is extremely fond of Sopa Di Lima (Lime Soup) which is traditionally made not with chicken, but the native turkey. Chicken is an adaptation for non-Yucatanian chefs with easier access to these birds, but I still think it is best made with turkey stock and turkey meat.
If you’ve ever tried this at a chain Mexican restaurant made with bland chicken stock, a few tired slices of aged lime and some limp vegetables, blot that travesty out of your mind!
This is a Mayan dish that should include turkey stock flavored with many herbs and spices, roasted hot peppers, roasted tomatoes, fried tortilla strips and – of course – limes and lots of them. Recipes vary between families, this is mine.
Yucatanian limes are similar to key limes, but I’ve adapted my recipe to use the easier to find Persian limes that are commonly found across the U.S. That is my only concession – everything else in my recipe is as authentic as it gets, Citizens (and my wife agrees!).
Battle on – The Generalissimo
2 turkey wings
1 turkey, gutted
2 tablespoons kosher salt
½ Lime or 2 Key Limes, halved
4 sprigs of fresh mint
8 whole allspice berries
20 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
10 average-sized peeled cloves of garlic, halved
1 head of roasted garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut and diced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
PART TWO: THE SOUP
2 quarts salpimentado broth
1 turkey breast
1 serrano chili, split and seeds removed
1 habanero chili, split & seeds removed – Be careful when handling chiles! Wear protective gloves, or make certain to wash your hands well before touching your face or anything else – IT WILL BURN!
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon dried epazote (or use Mexican oregano if unavailable)
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
Chopped Avocado to taste
Place the wings and carcass in four quarts of cold water. If they are not covered, add water to cover. Season with the salt (or to your personal taste) and boil. Remove the scum as it forms on the surface of the broth.
You need to prepare the spices (garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds) for this recipe by roasting them.
Roast the spices in a cast iron skillet, moving them around constantly with a spoon or implement. You will know they are done when the cumin seeds begin to pop and their aroma is pronounced. Take care not to burn them.
Grind the roasted spices until you have a medium powder in a spice grinder. Put into a 4” square of doubled cheesecloth and tie off with the string.
Add the onions, garlic, spice bag, lime, bay leaves and mint to your broth. Reduce over a low heat to about 10 cups. This should take about one hour.
When done, strain the entire mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the bones, spice bag & vegetables. Cool and skim fat from the surface. Save the meat for turkey salad. You now have salpimentado broth!
Roast the tomatoes in the oven at 400 degrees. When the skin begins to split and the tomato smokes a bit, take them out and pull away the skin. Remove the seeds with the aid of a teaspoon, fry the tomato into a puree with some oil and season with salt and pepper.
Peel and section the limes.
Toast the habanero and Serrano chilies in the oven until the skin is a medium brown.
Boil the turkey or chicken breasts in the broth with the lime sections, the chilies, tomato puree, cilantro, oregano and epazote.
When the meat is cooked, remove from the broth and allow to cool. Reduce the heat on the other ingredients and allow to simmer.
While this is simmering, cut the tortillas into strips and fry them in a bit of oil to make them crispy.
When the meat is cool to your touch, shred into small strips and add back to the broth. Bring it back to a boil.
Add the tortilla strips and avocado to the soup just prior to serving. Adjust sourness to your preferred level with more fresh lime juice. Serve with plenty of good Mexican beer!