Chicken soup with vegetables is the kind of dish that almost everybody enjoys as a staple in the family menu rotation. In Mexico, caldo de pollo con verduras is served all year round, and for my family here in Canada, this caldo is particularly comforting on a cold day, to mitigate the winter blues. Old-fashioned techniques call for whole pieces of chicken and large chunks of vegetables cooked together in a pot, served directly into large bowls; more contemporary recipes, like the one I am sharing below, deconstruct the process by pre-cooking, cleaning and shredding the chicken, and prepping the vegetables in a more spoon-friendly fashion. Because it is a staple dish, vegetables may vary, depending on the season, or on what already is in the fridge and pantry. I had a few basic ingredients available:
Other veggies could be zucchini, chayote, and even frozen corn kernels, peas, green beans, etc. And finally, although not necessary, some unripen cheese and avocado can be a nice addition, as toppings.
Chicken Soup with Vegetables – Caldo de pollo con verduras
Ingredients (for 6 to 8 portions)
1 chicken (preferably organic); cut up into pieces
Water, as needed
1 white onion; peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 sprigs celery
¼ large cabbage
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup unripen cheese (such as panela, or light feta); crumbled (optional)
1 avocado (optional)
Cook and prep chicken meat and broth: Place chicken pieces in a large pot, and cover with water; add one half of the onion, and the bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, cover, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and tender:
Remove chicken pieces from the pot; discard skin and bones, shred all the meat, and reserve. Strain the broth through a mesh, and reserve.
Prepare veggies: Wash everything and dry. Peel carrots, remove ends, cut in half lengthwise, then slice. Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. Remove ends from celery and slice. The one ingredient I like in large pieces is the cabbage, so it does not get mushy in the soup, so cut into wedges, about 2 inches (5 cm) long.
Cook soup: Warm up the oil in a large pot over medium/high heat. Add carrots and sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add celery and continue cooking for one minute. Add potatoes and incorporate (photo below left). Continue cooking and stirring for two more minutes, then add reserved broth (photo below, right):
If needed, add hot water, to completely cover the veggies. Tuck in cabbage wedges (photo below, left). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring soup to boil, then reduce heat to medium, and cover pot (photo below, right):
Allow to cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Prepare toppings: Meanwhile, chop the other half of the onion and the cilantro, and slice limes into wedges or halves. If using, right before serving, wash, peel and slice avocado. Arrange all toppings at the table, including the crumbled cheese (if using):
Check potatoes with a fork, to make sure they are fully cooked. Check seasoning, and adjust with more salt and/or pepper, as needed.
Serve caldo de pollo con verduras: Place one portion of the reserved shredded chicken in a bowl, then fill with a wedge of cabbage, more vegetables, and broth from the pot:
Bring to the table, where each person may add toppings, to taste. Below, a fully loaded bowl of caldito (in Mexico, everything delicious is named in diminutive), topped with onions, cilantro, avocado and cheese, and lime wedges on the side, for a sprinkle of citrus flavour:
A bowl of caldo de pollo con verduras is so casual, that not even a tablecloth is required. If there is chicken and a few vegetables at hand (I usually have at least some breasts, green beans and corn in the freezer), this soup may be prepared any time, one of those visceral decisions after being flummoxed by the refrigerator’s emptiness just a couple of hours before meal time.
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #527, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.