Sunday, November 21, 2010

Caldo de Pollo

Chicken soup is about as basic as it gets when it comes to homemade cooking. In Spanish it's called "Caldo de Pollo" and my mom's recipe includes potatoes and fresh cilantro added at the end to really take this classic soup to the next level. This is the soup I crave and remember everytime I'm sick or I'm caring for my sick ones. The cilantro gives it extra heartiness that most chicken soups are lacking.
I took an extra step in preparing this soup and cut up a whole chicken by myself! I had to get over the sliminess of it all, but once my inner butcher came out it was a pretty gratifying experience. By the the end of it, I had the breasts, thighs, legs, and wings on the cutting board all ready to be seasoned and browned for the soup. The only way this could have been better would have been if I'd caught it and killed it myself.  Okay, I'm still several steps away from that. Maybe one day when I'm living on my own self-sustained farm in Tuscany. For now, I feel good about supporting the local, smaller farms that sell their free-range, organically-raised chickens. The skin and the bones from the chicken are an absolute must in order to get the full flavor for the Caldo de Pollo. You can get skinless chicken pieces, though, if you like. Chicken breasts will do, but they won't give your soup as much flavor as the rest of the chicken with the bones still in.

1 whole chicken
1 chopped onion
3 chopped celery stalks
3 or more chopped carrots
2 potatoes
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
about 4 c. water
1/2 box of angel hair pasta or other noodles of choice
fresh cilantro

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken pieces in a single layer at the bottom of the stockpot, skin side down first. Salt the chicken as it is browning. Add the onions, carrots and celery along with the wine. Add a little more salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low/medium-low and let simmer for about 20 minutes before adding the chopped potatoes. Simmer on low for about an hour.  This will cook the chicken slowly and make it fall right off the bone. At this point, if you have left the skin on the chicken you will want to skim the grease off the top of the soup and you will also want to strain the soup.  I removed the skin from the chicken pieces and deboned them as well at this point. (You can skip all of this if you have used boneless chicken breasts, of course.) Once you have skimmed and strained the broth you may add your choice of noodles to the soup. I used simple angel hair pasta broken into quarters. I like the angel hair because it cooks quickly. At this point the soup is done. Add the fresh cilantro to the soup. I absolutely LOVE cilantro and so I simply wash it and add several branches of it without chopping.You may add it chopped or whole. Either way it will infuse it's fantastic flavor into the soup. Enjoy!


  1. yum, this sounds good. I would love to try it with skin adn bones, but have to admit that I am afraid to deal with a whole chicken!

  2. Patty, I was afraid, too. It was kind of empowering (yes, in a wierd way) and fun to know that I didn't need a butcher to cut the whole bird up for me!