Slow-Simmered Caldo De Pollo Recipe

There is something magical about having a steaming pot of homemade soup on the stove. From the delicious aromas that fill the house while it cooks to the soul-nourishing taste of traditional comfort food, it is hard to beat. This is especially true with the classic Mexican soup, caldo de pollo. Made with a whole chicken that's slowly simmered to create its own broth — as well as a variety of fragrant herbs, aromatic spices, and tasty vegetables — this soup is both deliciously complex and like a simple hug in a bowl.

Beyond its wonderful savor, caldo de pollo has also long been hailed as a healing and restorative food, another variety of the classic cure-all, chicken soup. Regardless of whether you are under the weather or simply in need of some good, old-fashioned comfort, this caldo de pollo by recipe developer A.J. Forget has you covered. A hot bowl of soup, made slowly with care and love, is always a balm for what ails you.

Gather your caldo de pollo ingredients

For this recipe, you will need a whole chicken of around 4-5 pounds, as well as onion, carrots, celery, jalapeno, and garlic to create a hearty soup base. Corn, zucchini, lime, cilantro, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, a bit of sugar, and, of course, salt add body and additional flavor.

Step 1: Break down the chicken

Break down the chicken into 7 pieces by separating the thighs, wings, and breasts from the carcass.

Step 2: Brown the chicken pieces

Add oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces (excluding the carcass) for about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Step 3: Start the stock

Add water, salt, and lime half to the pot, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil.

Step 4: Skim the foam

As the water heats, skim off any foam that appears on the surface to ensure a clear broth.

Step 5: Simmer the chicken

Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 60 minutes.

Step 6: Remove the chicken

Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside for later. Discard the lime half.

Step 7: Add the spices and aromatic vegetables

Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, cumin, and oregano to the pot. Increase the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Step 8: Shred the chicken

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bones and shred using 2 forks.

Step 9: Add the rest of the vegetables and return the chicken to the pot

Add the corn, zucchini, and cilantro to the pot along with the shredded chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Step 10: Adjust the seasoning

Remove soup from heat and add sugar and juice of the remaining lime half. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if desired.

Step 11: Serve hot with lots of garnishes

Serve soup hot with lime wedges, hot sauce, minced onion, diced avocado, minced cilantro, and/or rice, if desired.

Do you have to use a whole chicken for caldo de pollo?

Butchering a whole chicken is a great way to make broth, but it can also be an intimidating prospect for a home cook, especially without a good how-to guide on breaking down poultry. Fortunately, it is not the only way to make an excellent broth for your homemade caldo de pollo. 

Because this recipe eschews premade broth in favor of making your own, it is important to use bone-in, skin-on chicken, but it is not necessary that you use a whole chicken. Whole cuts are full of fat, collagen, and flavor, creating the richness that we expect from a good broth. So, if you'd prefer to avoid any at-home butchery, using an equal quantity of chicken thighs or even drumsticks will achieve similar results. As long as the chicken cuts you choose have skin and bones, they will still create a delicious, savory broth.

How do you store caldo de pollo leftovers?

Should you find yourself with leftover caldo de pollo (a real marvel given how delicious this soup is), any leftovers should be allowed to cool to room temperature before being stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 3-5 days. If you want to store leftover soup for longer than five days, it should be frozen. It is always good practice to allow hot foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator in order to avoid adding extra stress to the appliance (as well as extra dollars to your electric bill). 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or, if you have space in the fridge, directly in the cooking pot. To reheat the whole batch, simply place the pot of soup back on the stove over medium heat until it reaches a nice simmer. If you want to reheat only a single portion, just ladle one serving into a bowl and toss it in the microwave until nice and warm.

Can you make caldo de pollo in advance?

Slow-simmered soups like caldo de pollo are time-consuming to make, which is why they are often traditional Sunday meals all over the world. But if you don't have all day to spend in the kitchen with a simmering soup, they are also perfect to make ahead of time. If you want to serve caldo de pollo for dinner but are too busy to set aside a few hours before mealtime, you can easily make this recipe earlier in the day — or even a day or two ahead — and heat it up right before dinner time. 

Because this soup is already a slow-simmered recipe, it will not suffer from being cooked ahead and reheated when you are ready to eat. Some of the garnishes in this recipe, however, do not keep quite as well, particularly if you choose to include diced avocado. So, while the soup can be prepared well in advance, it is best to wait until it is almost time to eat to put out the garnishes.

Slow-Simmered Caldo De Pollo Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
Full of veggies, herbs, spices, and homemade broth, this Mexican chicken soup is a cure for all that ails you.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
1.75
hours
Servings
8
servings
bowl of caldo de pollo
Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 (4-5 pound) chicken
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lime, cut in half, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 ears corn, sliced into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Optional Ingredients
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Minced onion, for serving
  • Diced avocado, for serving
  • Minced cilantro, for serving
  • Rice, for serving
Directions
  1. Break down the chicken into 7 pieces by separating the thighs, wings, and breasts from the carcass.
  2. Add oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces (excluding the carcass) for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  3. Add water, salt, and lime half to the pot, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil.
  4. As the water heats, skim off any foam that appears on the surface to ensure a clear broth.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 60 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside for later. Discard the lime half.
  7. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, cumin, and oregano to the pot. Increase the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bones and shred using 2 forks.
  9. Add the corn, zucchini, and cilantro to the pot along with the shredded chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove soup from heat and add sugar and juice of the remaining lime half. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
  11. Serve soup hot with lime wedges, hot sauce, minced onion, diced avocado, minced cilantro, and/or rice, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 457
Total Fat 30.3 g
Saturated Fat 7.8 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 130.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Total Sugars 4.8 g
Sodium 741.5 mg
Protein 34.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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