Caldo de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)
As many of you are probably already aware, I love Mexican food. Heck, I like most all ethnic food that I have ever tried, but Mexican cuisine, and well, Thai, really stand out for me. There is something to be said of its simplicity while at the same time having a very complex flavor. Take for example a basic roasted salsa. Very simple ingredients, but when added to a taco, that taco just got a whole lot brighter. Those are some of the things I love about Mexican food.
I post time and time again on how often I love visiting my local taqueria for a few tacos al pastor, and while I am eating the tacos, I really take interest to what the other locals are eating. Sure, some are eating tortas, or the daily special, but a majority of them are eating bowls of soup with large cuts of tender meats and chunky vegetables, all while having a warm, corn tortilla in the other hand.
After my snooping around and quick investigation, I realized that what the local are eating is really just a great chicken soup, with a couple of different ingredients. More rustic if you will, and it was my goal to make it for my family, and am I glad I did.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients for the chicken broth (caldo):
- 4 chicken drum sticks, 2 thighs, 4 chicken wings
- 3 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
- 3 large carrots, cleaned, and cut in half
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 serrano chili, smacked with the back of a knife
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 whole bay leaves
- water, enough to cover all of the ingredients
Add all of the ingredients to a large stock pot, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about two hours. About one hour in, skim the top of any residue, and discard.
Discard all of the chicken and vegetables, filtering it as much as possible. If you can let this cool, and place in the refrigerator overnight, that would be great. This will allow you to easily scrape any of the fat off of the top to have a cleaner broth.
Ingredients for the Soup (sopa):
- 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 whole carrots, but into large bite sized pieces
- 2 whole ears of corn, cleaned and cut into thirds
- 3 yukon gold or russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into large bite size pieces
- 1 lime, juiced
- Fresh cilantro
- Corn tortillas, warmed
Ingredients for Mexican red rice:
- 3 whole roma tomatoes
- 1 cup of long grain rice
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
Start by adding the broth back to your soup pot and bring it to a simmer. Add all of the ingredients except the cilantro and corn tortillas. Continue cooking on simmer until the vegetables become tender. This will take about 45-60 minutes.
During this time, make the rice. Add the whole tomatoes, water, and salt to a food processor or blender. Next, heat a medium pot on medium heat. Add the oil and let it warm through. Add in the rice, and stir, coating all of the rice. Continue to do this until the rice turns a light brown color. Add in your tomato water, give a good stir, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is nice and fluffy. Once cooked, remove it from the heat.
Sounds like a lot, right? It’s not, trust me.
Now you are ready to serve. To a nice soup bowl, add in about one cup of the rice to the bottom, distribute the chicken and vegetables into the broth, and ladle in the nice broth. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with a lime wedge and some nice, warm tortillas.
The simplicity of the ingredients, which are very basic, tend to change with the flavor of a warm, corn tortilla. Those simple things will get you every time. Now I know why the locals are always ordering the caldo de pollo, and the caldo de res. I hope you enjoy.