Sopa de lima

Sopa de lima, or lime soup, is a Yucatecan dish. This version is from Wednesday’s New York Times article by David Tanis, a welcom reprieve from a rather sad front page piece focusing on gluttony… did you know it takes a 42-mile walk to burn off the calories from a typical Thanksgiving feaast, blahhhhhh I don’t care.

Obviously you can use the leavings from any poultry feast. However as Tanis points out, turkeys were domesticated in Mexico centuries earlier than they were here, and even exported to Europe before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Still, the hard part is the first part: roast a large bird and have sufficient leavings. In this case, I had roasted a 14-pound turkey using a combination of the Russ Parsons dry brine and Elmer Grossman’s Hungarian-American steam-foil-bag technique from Saveur, and had a hefty, meaty carcass, an unused neck (long story) and quite a few meaty bones.

I simmered these into a broth as per Tanis’s recommendation last night. I also left some tortillas from one of the vendors at Essex Street Market out to stale. That was the limit of my prep – most of the rest of the stuff was here around the house.

The recipe calls for roasting and grinding cumin, coriander seed and black pepper, which go into a mirepoix of (white) onion, celery and carrot, along with a cinnamon stick, garlic and salt. (Sidenote: when did Mexican and Caribbean cuisines pick up these spices? Presumably from the India trade, because cumin, coriander seed, black pepper and cinnamon are so clearly subcontinental in origin? Or?) You add the broth to that and simmer 15 minutes – an intoxicating 15 minutes, I might add. A man explained to me on Thanksgiving Day that smelling food is one-half the way to eating it, and he is absolutely right.

The rest is completely straightforward and as per Tanis’s article. I put in a pinch of Mexican oregano because I had some and because Diana Kennedy calls for it in her recipe which is, however, entirely different. The one thing I’d add is that you should not stint on the salt, even if you started with a well-brined turkey and despite the fact that the recipe calls for unsalted broth. Whatever salt is in the turkey is well diluted by the 12 cups of water, and you will need plenty more.

I love how green the garnishes are in certain Mexican dishes. I completely spaced on the avocado – it would have been nice, I’m sure, but I didn’t miss it. This dish is just fantastic.