I’m not quite sure what has brought on the sudden obsession with Mexican cuisine in Brisbane. It seems to be the flavour of the moment, with numerous restaurants like Guzman y Gomez and the Burrito Bar popping up left, right and centre. But whatever the reason, we’ve embraced the Mexican fever at home and have started a bi-weekly tradition of Mexican feasts. Although, there are only so many tacos and burritos a person can take, so I have extended my repertoire, and in the process, have discovered some fresh Mexican flavours. One dish that I really enjoyed was sopa de lima which translates to lime soup – a Yucatan specialty. Like burritos or tacos, you can still get everyone involved in the dish, by placing the bits and pieces in bowls, the soup or stock in a large jug, and have everyone assemble their own creations at the table. It’s a very light, fresh soup, which I think is much better suited to summer than winter. The soup, or broth rather, is based on the chicken stock that you have to make first. The avocado, corn chips, coriander, chilli, lime and feta give it great contrasting elements which really make the dish. The great thing is, you can keep some of the chicken aside, and serve it with burritos or tacos afterwards if you just can’t get enough of the Mexican favourites… it’s great panfried with some cumin and garlic.
enough for 6
1 whole, free range chicken
14 garlic cloves
1 carrot chopped into large cubes
1 cinnamon quill
1 bunch coriander – washed thoroughly
1 avocado, diced
1 packet salted/plain corn chips
1 block feta
1 red chilli
Pat the chicken dry all over before placing in a large saucepan. Throw in 1 onion quartered, 4 garlic cloves, the chopped carrot, spices, 1 tbsp salt and the coriander stems and roots (keep the leaves aside). Cover with just enough water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and cover. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.
In the last 15 minutes, turn the oven on to the grill setting at a high temperature. Quarter the remaining onion and place on the tray with the remaining 10 garlic cloves. Grill for about 8 minutes or until soft. Once cooled, squeeze the garlic into a food processor (or in a bowl that allows you to blend the contents with a hand processor), throw in the onion, and add a cup of the chicken broth. Process until smooth.
Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside. Strain the stock into a large, clean saucepan, discarding the solids. Ideally, you want about 9 cups of liquid to start with (based on 6 people). If there is more liquid than this, set it aside. Pour the garlic and onion puree into the saucepan and combine with the stock. Squeeze 1-2 limes (to taste) into the broth, salt and pepper and taste for flavour. Don’t expect anything overpowering, it is supposed to be subtle, and remember, the other ingredients that are added at the end, will contribute much of the flavour. If it’s quite strong, then you can afford to add more of the liquid.
Keep warm on a low heat while preparing the condiments for the table; shred the chicken (set half aside for use in burritos if desired), dice the avocado, wash and separate the coriander leaves, crumble the feta, slice the chilli finely, slice the extra lime into wedges and lightly crush the corn chips. Place in bowls on the table for everyone to help themselves. Set flat soup bowls on the table. When ready to go, pour the broth into a large jug and serve.