(If you want to skip the intro, the condensed recipes are at the bottom of this post.)
Most people have “comfort foods” that are usually based on what their parents made for them in the years past. All my “comfort foods” that remind me of my childhood are Mexican dishes.
“Caldo De Pollo” literally translates to “Broth of Chicken,” and it’s one of my favorite comfort foods. I make it about 2-3 times a month at our house. It’s essentially chicken soup, but Mexican style. And no, it’s not just broth!
My mom has given me her method several times over the years, and I have modified it to my own liking for my family.
You’ll need to have prepared Mexican rice for this meal. It’s easier if you make it ahead of time! It goes well with a variety of dishes, so at our house I usually make a lot of it about once a week and it lasts several days in the fridge. I’ll share my recipe below if you don’t know how to make it.
Now for the soup:
First, you boil your chicken. I prefer to use any pieces of chicken that have bones, typically like chicken legs or thighs. Reason being, the bones give such a nice flavor to the soup, and as a bonus they make the broth super nutritional.
I use a large pot, full it halfway with water, throw my chicken into it, about 3-4 bay leaves, and about 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, about a tablespoon of salt, and a bit of black pepper. I boil that for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cut carrots, potatoes, celery, and ears of corn, all into large chunks. I started cutting the veggies in large chunks because I was always in a hurry, and my family now loves them that way. It’s sort of fun cutting up pieces with your spoon as you eat your soup I suppose… at least it’s fun for my toddler!
My mother puts another vegetable into the soup called a “chayote.” It’s a vegetable that grows in the ground, like a potato, but looks like a misshapen pear to me. The texture of it is like a potato, and the taste is like that of a squash. I usually avoid putting this in my soup simply because I usually don’t have chayotes in my fridge! You typically find them at a Mexican grocery store.
I cook the veggies in the chicken soup for about 10 minutes. At this point, I pull out any bones in the soup, so it’s just the meat left.
Meanwhile the veggies are cooking, I cut up the toppings. (This is another step that changes this from an American style chicken soup, to a Mexican one) I finely dice white onion, fresh cilantro, and fresh jalapeños. I keep them separate so as we eat the soup, we can put on toppings to our liking. Also, I chop some limes. It’s not a Mexican dish without limes!
A note about limes: do yourself and others a favor and stop cutting limes in weird little slivers. Just cut them in halfs. It’s much easier to hold and you can actually get more than 5 drops of lime juice when you squeeze!!
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, scoop a bit of Mexican rice and plop in right on top of the soup, sprinkle some toppings, squish some lime juice, and have some hot tortillas ready.
Add more toppings or lime juice as you eat!
With the tortillas: I grew up rolling them into little rolls, and dipping them in the salty broth and eating them as I eat my soup.
Caldo De Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)
1-2 pounds of chicken (preferably with bones)
1/2 an onion
TB of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
3 cloves of garlic
3-4 bay leaves
2-3 ears of corn
1 chayote (optional)
1 white onion
1 bunch of cilantro
1 fresh jalapeño
A few limes
Mexican Rice (prepared separately)
Tortillas (handmade is always best)
First, boil the chicken in a large stockpot. You can use a whole chicken, or pieces. I recommend choosing chicken pieces that have bones, they make all the difference when it comes to flavor for the soup. Boil with bay leaves, onion, garlic, and salt on medium for about 30 mins.
Meanwhile, cut all your veggies into large chunks. After the 30 minutes the chicken has been cooking, add the veggies. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls, put a scoop of rice on top, sprinkle with cilantro and onion, and squish lime juice on the top. Roll up a tortilla and serve it beside the soup. Dip tortilla in soup as you eat.
Mexican Rice Recipe: (makes about 3 cups)
Blend about 4 Roma tomatoes, (or two large tomatoes) a pinch of dried oregano, a tablespoon of chicken bullion, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and about 1 cup of water. Pour the mixture through a sieve and use a spoon to really push all the juice through, leaving all the pulp and tomato skins behind.
Sauté about a cup of white long grain rice with a dash of oil at medium heat. Stir constantly as it tends to burn easily. Sauté until all of the rice is a nice golden color.
Pour the tomato mixture over the rice. Simmer all together until rice is soft and cooked all the way through, covered the whole time without stirring. If it needs to cook a bit longer, pour a bit of water over it all and keep cooking it for a few minutes more.