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  • Roxie Daggett

Mexican Chicken Soup with Key Lime Calabacitas Relish {Dairy and Corn Free}

Updated: Mar 13

Mexican soups can be blessed excuse to eat sweet corn, fried tortillas, sour cream and cheese. But what if you are sensitive or allergic to these these classic (and often inflammatory) ingredients?! Don't worry. This recipe has you covered!


This comforting chicken soup is rich in nutrient-dense vegetables, anti-inflammatory spices, healthy fats and nourishing protein. The rich and crunchy texture of the relish makes you forget about corn and a generous plunging of salty, creamy avocados on top will put dreams of dairy out of your mind.


Of course if you tolerate corn and dairy, go for it, but I do have to say that I truly enjoyed this dish without it! Don't spare on the fresh lime and cilantro!


Las Calabacitas

The relish is a raw version of the beloved Mexican and Southwest dish known as “calabacitas,” which always contains some diced zucchinis and/or summer squashes sautéed with onions and spices. If you don't want your pristine calabacitas to get soggy, you can leave this relish raw and let the steaming hot soup "cook it" as it's served up in individual bowls. You can also sauté the relish separately if you have digestive issues with raw foods. And of course you totally can put it in the soup if you don't mind soft zukes! Any which way, the calabicitas relish saves beautifully and goes great on salads, eggs or cooked up as a side dish!


Mexican Chicken Soup with Key Lime Calabacitas Relish {Dairy and Corn Free}


Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 10 minutes Total: 0 minutes Serves: 6


Ingredients for Mexican Chicken Soup:

  • ½ large white cabbage shredded or chopped

  • 1 medium white onion chopped

  • 10 cherry tomatoes (halved) or 1-2 ripe roma tomatoes or 1 large heirloom tomato (roughly chopped)

  • 1 jalapeño or Serrano chili, minced

  • 2-3” ginger, freshly grated or minced

  • 2-3 tbs. olive oil, butter, ghee or combo

  • 6 cups of chicken stock, bone broth or veggie stock (homemade or store bought)

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts or 4 cooked thighs—shredded (can be done a day ahead or from leftovers)

  • Course sea salt or Himalayan salt

  • Fresh cracked pepper


Ingredients for Key Lime Calabacitas Relish:

  • 1 large yellow squash or yellow zucchini, diced into small cubes

  • 1 green zucchini, diced into small cubes

  • 1 medium red onion finely chopped

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 6-8 key limes (depending on size) or 1 regular lime

  • 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

  • 1 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

  • Course sea salt or Himalayan salt

  • Fresh cracked pepper


Toppings:

  • 1-2 avocados, chopped

  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

  • 1 lime cut up in eighths (in case anyone needs extra!)


Instructions for Mexican Chicken Soup:

Have ready some chicken or veggie stock (6 cups) or bone broth; a store-bought option is fine. Also, have cooked: 2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs or leftover chicken of any kind. The chicken can be cooked up to a day ahead of time. I like to cook a whole chicken the day before so I can use the leftover meat in the soup. Shred (do not cube unless you like cafeteria vibes) the chicken with your fingers or with a fork. Great kitchen task for kiddos!


  1. In a large saucepan or small soup pot on medium heat, coat the bottom with fat(s) of your choice—olive oil, butter or ghee. I prefer to use both olive oil and butter.

  2. Toss in chopped onions, shredded or chopped cabbage, minced ginger, minced jalapeño or Serrano chile, and halved cherry tomatoes or roughly chopped heirloom or roma tomatoes. I like to salt and pepper at this point to release some moisture and lock in flavors. Saute until onions are clear, tender and aromatic and all the ingredients are melding together. Do not let burn; supervised stirring is another great kitchen task for kids.

  3. Add in all the chicken or veggie stock or bone broth. Turn on high and then bring to a simmer. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Do not add in shredded chicken until last 5 minutes before serving or you risk rubbery or sawdust chicken. Keep it tender!


Instructions for Key Lime Calabacita Relish:

Do all the chopping for this relish while the soup veggies sauté and then cook in the stock. The timing will work out—when your relish is ready, your soup will be too—and if the soup is cooking down too quickly turn it off for a bit! I used key limes because they were in season, but any limes will do. The key is to make sure your diced calabicitas—zucchinis and summer squashes are in small cubes (a little larger than size of corn kernels). Keep the red onions small, too. It’s a raw relish and texture should be like a chunky salsa.


  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss in the diced calabacitas—zucchinis and summer squash. Toss in the diced red onions, minced garlic, chopped cilantro. Gently mix (do not squish your lovely work).

  2. Add juice from your key limes or regular lime. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on till you get a little glisten on the relish—but not too much. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside till serving time.


Instructions for Serving:

  1. Add shredded chicken to soup about 5 minutes before serving. Let simmer.

  2. Put 2 or so tablespoons of red rice at the bottom of each soup bowl. Heat in oven or serve cold. You can also reheat rice on stove, but that’ another pan to clean! Unless of course you make the rice fresh and hot while making the soup.

  3. Ladle soup into bowls on top of rice—only fill about halfway or so. Add generous scoops of Calabacita Relish to the soups. Bury some in the broth to fill up the bowl, and leave some fresh on the top like a garnish. Adjust any portions of soup, rice, or relish as desired.

  4. Top with avocados and serve immediately.


If you want leftovers, I suggest you save everything separately for freshest flavors and textures—rice, soup and relish, but you can also mix everything in one container or put in batch jars if that works best for you. Either way, you will be winning with 6 servings of highly nutritious and flavorful soup—if you manage not to go back for seconds like me!