Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt

A recipe for a cilantro-lime chicken soup inspired by a Peruvian classic with a spoonful of yogurt that allows this tangy potato, quinoa, and pea-laden soup a different dimension.
Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |

“Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

— Mary Oliver

Breathe. At the very base level, breathe means taking air into your lungs and expelling it. It’s the process of inhaling and exhaling. When you dig deeper, however, breathe means live. It is taking a moment to pause, to rest—to breathe—before continuing. Further still and Merriam-Webster defines breathe as “to feel free of restraint.”

When talking about wine, breathing allows air exposure to develop flavor in the wine. The idea is that the wine becomes more expressive as it is exposed, the aromatics blossoming in the glass. It is why you’ll see people swirl their glass before placing their nose in it. However, breathing can also highlight flaws, especially in older wines, muddying the flavor. It’s not an exact science, and different wines require different amounts of breathing to reach their full potential.

As it is with humans.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |

Two steps forward. One step back. I shuffle across the ice rink walkway that extends up the driveway and to the front door to my house. Left foot, right foot, left. Centering my body before lifting my foot to climb the stairs, I arrange my bags so the weight is evenly distributed.

Before I open the door, I fill my lungs, feeling as the cold rushes into my lungs. The air isn’t so cold to sting these days, but it’s not the warm, thick of summer, nor is it fragrant with the smell of earth after a cold, spring rain. For now, it’s still simply cold. Crisp. Clean. I breathe it in and walk inside.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |

This was supposed to be a brothy soup full of chunks and grains. It’s inspired by aguadito de pollo, a Peruvian chicken soup with potatoes, peas, and rice. First went the rice, traded in for chewy bits of quinoa. A cilantro slurry gets added in at the end of this soup, lending it a shade of green (you can add more cilantro if you really want your broth to pop). Once the avocado garnish and yogurt was added, though, there was no going back for me. The yogurt played with the cilantro and lime, turning a brothy bowl into a creamy, yet not heavy meal.

You can eat this in its brothy format, yogurt or no, or stir the yogurt in to get a creamy green concoction as I did. My children ate it like chili, adding a scoop of yogurt followed by avocado slices followed by a sprinkle of scallions. Regardless of how you prefer to eat it, though, it’s the type of soup for transitioning, for breathing in as you wait for the air to warm. A bit of green in your bowl before the green visits your yard.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound cooked chicken (leftovers work great here)
  • 4 small to medium golden potatoes, diced
  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1½ cups fresh cilantro
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Greek yogurt, about 2 tablespoons per bowl
  • for garnish:
  • avocado slices
  • chopped scallions
  • cilantro


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, cumin, sea salt, and the bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  2. Add in the chicken, potatoes, quinoa, and five cups of stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes, until quinoa is cooked through. Remove ½ cup of hot soup broth. Stir in the pears.
  4. In a blender, combine the hot broth with the cilantro and serrano pepper. Blend until cilantro is chopped. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro mixture and the lime juice. Top bowls of steaming soup with Greek yogurt; stir it in for a creamy presentation.
  5. Top with scallions, additional cilantro, and avocado slices.
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings


Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |
It’s time again for Eat Seasonal. Spring is coming, but it’s not here yet, so we’re embracing citrus and playing with root vegetables. Be sure to check out what everyone’s cooking up as we slowly make our way towards spring.
Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |
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Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup with Yogurt recipe |


  1. Sounds so good! And definitely extra cilantro for me. I can’t get enough!

  2. This is my kind of soup — I love the pop of lime and freshness of the cilantro! This looks so hearty and delicious!

  3. This looks SO cozy! The perfect recipe to warm up the last month of winter!

  4. Ah! I’ve spend a fair amount of time in Peru and CRAVE Peruvian Chicken Soup. This is going to end up in my rotation this week.

    And yes! More cilantro please.

  5. Food that’s a riff on a recipe with a Spanish name catches my eye immediately. Love that you added quinoa to a Peruvian soup!

  6. You can’t go wrong with a cilantro and lime combo! I love how hearty this soup looks 🙂

  7. This looks so great, Shaina. I’m hosting a soup swap on the weekend and I’m feeling inspired!

  8. I need some deep breaths in my day! Thank you for that reminder and love the idea of eating green before it becomes green outside 🙂

  9. Love the photos, the recipe, everything! You rock!!

  10. Look so yummy!!!

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