Mexican Chicken Soup with Lime Calabacitas Salsa (Dairy and Corn Free)
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
Mexican soups can be a 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 inflammatory for some) ingredients?! Don't worry. This recipe has you covered!
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Nutrient Dense Ingredients
This comforting chicken soup is rich in nutrient-dense vegetables, anti-inflammatory herbs and 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 our family truly enjoys this dish without it! Don't spare on the fresh lime and cilantro!
"Calabacitas" is the Spanish word for squash and is a beloved Mexican and Southwest dish which always contains some diced zucchinis and/or summer squashes sautéed with onions and spices. My grandmother was born in northern New Mexico during the Great Depression and has been eating and loving calabacitas ever since.
If you don't want your calabacitas to get soggy, you can leave the dish raw and let the steaming hot soup "cook it" as it's served up in individual bowls. You can also sauté it separately and very lightly. And of course you can put it directly in the soup as it cooks if you don't mind soft zukes!
As a side dish, the calabicitas salsa saves beautifully and goes great on beans, eggs (hello, omelettes!) or even salad.
Mexican Chicken Soup with Lime Calabacitas Salsa
Prep: ~1 hour Cook: 25 minutes Total: ~1 hour 25 minutes Serves: 6
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Ingredients for Mexican Chicken Soup:
2-3 cups of white cabbage shredded or chopped
1 medium white onion chopped
1 jalapeño or Serrano chili, minced (remove seeds and veins if you want it less spicy)
2-3 inches or peeled ginger knobs, freshly grated or minced (to support digestion)
2 cooked chicken breasts or 4 cooked thighs—shredded (can be done a day ahead or from leftovers from a whole roasted chicken)
Fresh cracked pepper
Ingredients for Lime Calabacitas Salsa:
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
optional: 1/2-1 jalapeño or Serrano chili, minced (this will add extra spice since the soup already includes a spicy pepper; up to you if you want it extra spicy!)
1 regular lime, juiced
2 cups of roughly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil
Fresh cracked pepper
1-2 avocados, chopped
1 cup of finely chopped cilantro
1 lime cut up in eighths (in case anyone needs extra!)
Instructions for Mexican Chicken Soup:
Saute chopped onion on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until just softening and getting fragrant.
Add cabbage, ginger, jalapeño (or Serrano chile), and tomatoes.
Sauté for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in chicken stock, veggie stock or bone broth.
Turn to high heat and bring soup to a momentary boil.
Turn heat to low and let simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Add in shredded chicken 3-5 minutes before serving while still simmering. I don't add it in earlier so as not to risk overcooking the chicken.
Instructions for Lime Calabacitas Salsa:
While veggies sauté and soup cooks, you can chop and assemble the lime calabacitas salsa. If soup is cooking too quickly, to avoid sogginess, turn soup off for a few minutes until you are done assembling this dish. 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. Texture should be like a chunky salsa.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss in all the diced calabacitas—zucchinis and summer squash, diced red onions, minced garlic, chopped cilantro. Gently mix (do not squish your delicate work).
Add lime juice, olive oil or avocado oil, and fold in gently.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Set aside in glass storage container (see why below) and add to soup the last 5 minutes before serving so you do not get overcooked, soggy calabacitas.
NOTE: If you are going to save some soup for leftovers (we always do as this is a big soup), I suggest putting whatever soup you don't plan eating immediately into your favorite glass storage container (these are mine). Only add the calabacitas and chicken to the portions you will eat immediately to keep it fresh and tender. You can do this every time you serve the soup. It's easy and worth it! Plus you can use the calabacitas salsa for other things like egg and bean toppings... saute lightly and yum!!!
Instructions for Serving:
After adding in your chicken and calabacitas for the last 3-5 minutes or so, ladle soup into bowls.
Top with avocados, cilantro and a squeeze of lime and serve immediately.
Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like it! You can post feedback in the comments below or tag me in your soup photo on Instagram @nourishandcherish.ntp!
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About the Author
Roxie Daggett is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) with a virtual holistic nutrition practice in Sedona, Arizona. Her passions include studying nutritional research pertaining to brain health, gut health, genetics and longevity. When she is not geeking out on nutrition she enjoys cooking, hiking, organic gardening and hanging out with her wonderful husband, and her adorable, energetic son who happens to have Down syndrome. Learn more on her About page and stay in touch by grabbing your FREE BRAIN HEALTH BREAKFAST GUIDE above or below!