Tlalpan Style Soup – A Crowd Pleaser

History Tidbit – Back in the early 1800s, public transportation between Mexico City and its surrounding municipalities was in great need of modernization.  There were some failed projects to build a railroad, but several animal-drawn tram routes were already operating from the downtown area (Zocalo) to other neighbourhoods.  By the 1850s, these routes had been extended to villages near the city, such as Tacubaya, San Angel and Tlalpan.  By the turn of the 20th century, electric trolleys began to substitute animal power.  Later on, all the villages had been swallowed into boroughs of Mexico’s capital city, and other mass transportation systems such as buses, and the very successful Metro (the first subway line started operation in 1969), eventually took over the trolley routes; the Tlalpan line was one of the last to disappear, replaced by a light train in the late 1980s.


Back in the day, people travelling from the small villages would be hungry after their long commutes to the city, and many vendors realized there was a demand for – street food, of course!  In Tlalpan, in particular, the omnipresent corn dough preparations, such as quesadillas, are still a classic antojito (craving) granting a visit on a weekend morning; less known is that some of these vendors offered a more satisfying and healthy option: Caldo Tlalpeño (Tlalpan style soup), a dish so good and hearty, that has become a culinary treasure nationwide.  Caldo Tlalpeño is one of those wonderful concoctions that allow a lot of variation without losing a bit of flavour or authenticity.  Although the “king of the castle” continues to be the original recipe with chicken, cheese and a good amount of chipotle peppers, it may be modified into a vegetarian, or even vegan version, and sensitive palates need not find it scary, since the spiciness may be simply reduced or eliminated altogether by serving the chipotles on the side.  This hearty dish is still frequently served on its own, but may also act as a first or second item in a three course meal.

Tlalpan Style Soup – Caldo Tlalpeño

Printable recipe: Tlalpan Style Soup

Ingredients (serves 8 to 10)

2 halves chicken breast (optional; ¼ onion, ½ tsp salt and water as needed, if using)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion
1 clove garlic
2 carrots
1 sprig celery
2 cups green beans
1 large zucchini
1 sprig cilantro
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
6 cups broth (vegetable, chicken or even water will do in a pinch)
4 cups
cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained)
2-4 cups
water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings
2 avocadoes, diced
1 cup light feta cheese, in small cubes or crumbled (or omit for vegan)
2-3 limes, sliced in half
1 can chipotle peppers, with their sauce
1 bag corn chips (preferably yellow corn)

If using chicken, place halves in a pot along with the onion, salt, and enough water to cover the chicken.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then cook on medium-low for about 35 minutes, partially covered, until cooked. Remove breasts, discard skin and bones, and shred and reserve meat.  The broth may be strained and used in the soup, discarding onions and anything else caught in the strainer.

Meanwhile, finely chop onion, and peel garlic clove.  Wash all vegetables, then: peel and dice carrots; remove leaves and fiber, and dice celery; trim beans and slice into short cylinders; dice zucchini; pat cilantro dry:

001 chopped vegetables

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil and sauté onions in medium heat until translucent. Mince garlic and add to the onions, stirring for about one minute.  Incorporate next five ingredients in order, stirring in between for about 2 minutes.  Add tomato paste and bay leaf; gently stir while pouring broth, until tomato paste is dissolved. Add chickpeas and enough water to achieve a good balance of liquid and solid ingredients, as well as salt and pepper, to taste:

Bring to boil and then simmer for at least 20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked. Discard bay leaf. Serve piping hot into bowls, with shredded chicken (if using), topping generously with broth. The toppings are served on the side; each person may add avocado, cheese (if using), crushed chips and lime juice to their bowl of soup, and spiciness to taste from the chipotle peppers and sauce (at their own risk!)  The photo at the top of the post features a bowl with everything on, and below, the vegetarian version is shown:

005 vegetarian Tlalpan soup

I make the chicken version when my husband and I are by ourselves, but I use veggie broth and serve shredded chicken as an optional topping when my vegetarian (at times vegan) daughter is home.  I must always add chipotle to my bowl, but I am all alone on that one around here.  Caldo Tlapeño is a great example of the versatility of Mexican cuisine, capable of pleasing many different tastes in one delicious serving, or as some would say nowadays, “a dish on fleek.”


I am joining What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up # 170 hosted by Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome, always with great recipes and menus for the whole week.


I am sharing my crowd pleaser at Fiesta Friday #246 graciously hosted by Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week with co-hosts Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau (this season she is sharing fun ways to cook and stay cozy indoors),  and Mila @ Milkandbun (sharing traditional and creative recipes with beautiful food styling.)

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20 thoughts on “Tlalpan Style Soup – A Crowd Pleaser

    1. It does, and tastes even better. I am glad you’ve spotted this recipe, which may be cooked mild and still tasting very Mexican; would that perhaps be suitable for both your husband and yourself? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved reading the history of the soup. And the soup sounds so good! Pinned! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party – hope to see you next week too. In the mean time, have a fabulous week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

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