Last night was caldo night. An evening of chopping and dicing ended in a lovely pot (actually two pots) of delicious caldo de pollo…or Mexican chicken stew.
It is super simple to make and is a great dish to make for a week’s worth of lunches and leftovers. We use boneless skinless chicken breast because it is lower in fat and easier to eat than the traditional bone-in legs and thighs. Though, if you ever decide to try this I recommend making it the traditional way at least once!
First cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and place in a large stock pot filled about 1/3 of the way with water that has been brought to the boil. Let the chicken poach in the water and skim off the fat that rises to the top. Don’t take it all out though…you have to leave some goodness behind!
Next, add bouillon (any flavor works but I prefer chicken flavor), salt and spices. Sometimes we use oregano, sometimes we use cumin. This time it was cumin. It adds a nice warm undertone to the broth. Once you have tasted the broth and are satisfied with the flavor you can begin to add in your veggies.
This is where the variations can run wild. We typically add lots of different vegetables cut in nice chunks. If you don’t like a particular vegetable, don’t use it! This time we used potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onion, zucchini, and corn. Add the vegetables that take the longest to cook first along with about 3/4 to 1 cup of rice. While the heartier vegetables cook you can chop the more delicate additions and add them to the pot to join their friends.
After the chop fest is over allow the pot to return to the boil. Once it has boiled for a good couple of minutes, reduce to a good simmer and cover to cook until the rice is fully cooked. Remember to taste test the broth as it cooks to make sure that the flavor you desire remains. Season accordingly.
While the soup is cooking finely chop some red onion and jalapeno peppers and mix together in a small bowl. This will be used as a garnish for the finished soup. Also, roughly chop some cilantro to add to the soup for the last 5-8 minutes of cooking. The amount you add is purely up to your own preference. I have a hearty love of the stuff, so we tend to use quite a bit. Finally, dice up some fresh avocado for garnish as well.
When serving the soup add the onion and jalapeno mixture with the avocado and finish with a good squirt of fresh lime juice and a dash (or 10) of your favorite hot sauce. In our household Tapatio is definitely king.
This caldo is even better the next day after all the various flavors have had a chance to get to know each other over night. Do be aware however, that the rice will soak up some additional moisture and the soup will thicken. I personally like it thick, it is a stew after all. If you prefer a looser soup, just add less rice! 🙂 Either way it is an easy, delicious and yum-worthy meal.