Caldo de Pollo (Homemade Chicken Soup) + Video
Mexican Chicken Soup is medicine for the body AND soul. This simple Caldo de Pollo recipe is perfect for weeknights, especially in the New Year when you’re juggling healthy living goals with a busy schedule.
The holidays are almost over — let’s not forget about Dia de Los Reyes. If you are in need of a big bowl of comfort, this homemade chicken soup is just what the doctor ordered. Filled with lean chicken, whole grain rice, and healthy vegetables, this caldo de pollo works wonders.
Why This Recipe Rocks
As a working mom, sometimes it is hard to balance responsibilities. Between deadlines, recipe testing, remote learning, laundry, and grocery shopping (AKA ordering groceries), I often feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day.
This classic Mexican chicken soup makes things easy on me. The ingredients are all kitchen staples, meaning I don’t have to make an extra run to the store. The active time is minimal, requiring just about five minutes of my time. And in less than an hour, I can have a hearty, healthy dinner on the table ready to feed my family.
This Mexican soup is healthy
This chicken soup is naturally low in fat and calories and a delicious healthy Mexican meal.
Caldo de pollo also happens to be my absolute favorite homemade remedy for a variety of winter ailments. Sniffles, headaches, and sore throats are no match for this delicious and healthy soup. Don’t believe me? Even medical professionals agree that this witchy brew has some potent (dare I say magical) healing properties.
Ingredients and Substitutions
If you’re someone who cooks often, I can almost guarantee that you already have many of the ingredients needed for this caldo de pollo recipe.
- Veggies: Let’s start with the veggies: you’ll need carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, garlic, and tomatoes. Root vegetables like onions, potatoes, and garlic are extremely easy to keep on hand at all times. Since they have a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dark environment, there’s no reason not to have them in your pantry during the winter months.
- Water: No need for store-bought chicken broth in this recipe, only water to make your own homemade chicken broth.
- Cilantro: As a Mexican cook, I also always have a bunch of earthy cilantro on hand. If you don’t care for cilantro, I don’t understand you, but I’m here for you all the same. Feel free to omit it or replace it with fresh parsley.
- Pantry staples: The remaining pantry ingredients are also quite simple to find: olive oil, long-grain rice, canned tomato sauce, and salt are all part of a well stocked pantry.
- Chicken: As a personal preference, Mexican chicken soup generally tastes best with skinless dark meat like drumsticks or thighs. If you are trying to adhere to a lower fat diet or you only have boneless, skinless breasts on hand, you can certainly make do.
- Azafran: The one caldo de pollo ingredient that you might not have on hand are safflower petals (azafran). Azafran (the Spanish word for saffron) is the stamen of the safflower, while saffron as we know it is the stamen of the crocus. A thistle-like herb with an orange-red color, it gives food an orange tinge and a heady, aromatic flavor that is hard to resist. This ingredient is very economical. It is not pricey saffron. If you can not find any, just leave it out.
- Lime: Finally, as with most of my favorite meals, I love to garnish this homemade chicken soup with a bright squeeze of fresh lime. While optional, they are definitely worth the extra dollar or two to keep on hand.
How to make Caldo de Pollo
This Mexican chicken soup recipe is fast and easy to put together. In a large (at least 10-quart) pot, put the water, chicken, salt, and garlic. Boil for 15 minutes. While the chicken and broth are cooking, start on your rice.
In a separate pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. This toasting step adds loads of flavor, but it is important to not to let it burn. Add the onion and continue cooking until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add tomato and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Stir this rice mixture into your boiling chicken pot.
Add carrots, celery, and potatoes to soup and let come to a boil; reduce heat. Let simmer until vegetables cook through, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, cilantro, and safflower petals during the last 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls, top with your preferred garnishes, and enjoy!
Watch the video below to learn how quick and simple it is to make caldo de pollo. There is nothing like the magical healing powers of homemade soup to heal the body and soul.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I serve Caldo de Pollo?
As with many of my favorite dishes, I love to serve my caldo with corn tortillas. I also top mine with salsa casera and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. No salsa? Add some hot sauce for a bit of vinegary heat.
What are safflower petals (azafran)? Do I need them?
The exotic ingredient in this recipe is economical safflower petals (azafran). While it is not technically the same spice as pricey saffron, most people find the flavor profile similar. If you don’t have azafran on hand, but do have saffron, feel free to substitute 3 to 4 threads.
If you don’t have either, you can simply omit it.
Are there other things I can add to Mexican chicken soup?
Absolutely! One of my favorite things about soup is how easily customizable they are. First, feel free to add additional veggies. I love chayote, Mexican zucchini, and cabbage, but just about any veggies you have on hand will do beautifully.
Secondly, feel free to cut down on the carbs by omitting either the potatoes or the rice. You can also opt to sub in higher fiber brown rice to up the nutritional ante.
Finally, feel free to spice things up to your liking. Add some jalapeño slices to your veggie mix for some heat. Experiment with your toppings to get more oomph in the bowl.
How should I store this soup?
Proper food storage for your soup is essential to maintain the soup’s flavor and preserve the food quality. Homemade chicken soup will refrigerate, covered, for up to one week. It is also an excellent candidate for freezing and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
It freezes well in these plastic containers. Make a double batch and freeze half for later – that way, if you’re feeling under the weather but still need to feed the troops, you’re already covered. As a bonus, the soup will work its healing powers on you with no extra prep.
How do you reheat?
Reheat soup in the microwave or in a small saucepan on low heat.
Love Mexican Soups?
I have no doubt you’ll love this Mexican chicken soup, but here are more soups you may also like.
- Red Chicken Pozole
- Caldo de Res (Beef Soup)
- Veracruz-Style Cod
- Caldo de Pescado y Camaron (Fish and Shrimp Soup)
- Chicken Pozole Verde
- Red Pork and Hominy Stew (Pozole Rojo)
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)
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Caldo de Pollo (Homemade Mexican Chicken Soup)
- 8 cups water
- 4 to 6 skinless chicken drumsticks or thighs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup long-grain rice
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon safflower petals, azafran
- Lime wedges
- In a large (at least 10-quart) pot, put the water, chicken, salt, and garlic. Boil for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is boiling, in a separate pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Add onion and continue cooking until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomato and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add mixture to chicken pot.
- Add carrots, celery, and potatoes to soup and let come to a boil; reduce heat. Let simmer until vegetables cook through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add tomato sauce, cilantro, and safflower petals during the last 5 minutes.
- Ladle soup, including a piece of chicken for each serving, into bowls and serve with lime wedges, warm corn tortillas, and salsa casera.
- Feel free to add additional veggies like chayote, Mexican zucchini, and cabbage. This rustic soup is so delicious and customizable.
- Refrigerate, covered, for up to one week. It is also an excellent candidate for freezing and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Originally published: December 2014. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.
56 Comments on “Caldo de Pollo (Homemade Chicken Soup) + Video”
I’ve made this soup many times and it’s so full of flavor and comfort! I recently made a batch for a meal train for a friend while they recovered from surgery and it was a major hit. They appreciated how hearty the meal was and how easy it is to store and reheat as they recover.
The taste brought me back to my grandmother’s small kitchen and when we would visit her from out of state she would make this delicious caldo. She was on a very fixed income but most of these ingredients were always around. Thank you for the recipe and I’m sure she is smiling that I was confident enough to make it and now our family will be smiling. I added cabbage and some corn on the cob like she used to. It’s so versatile! Thank you
I have made this Soup over and over and everyone loves it. It’s perfect on a cold day in Arizona.
Delicious and so happy I found this recipe. No saffron so I added two dried chipotles to the broth when choking the chicken. Removed at the end of soup cooking, cut into small pieces and added back. No tomato sauce so I subbed with a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Thank you for such a great recipe!
Adding five stars!
Hello Mrs Marquez. My name is Glen Thank You for putting that recipe out there my stomach and I appreciate it. I did alter it a little bit I had almost everything except for tomatoes or tomato sauce but I did have some New Mexico dried chilies and Guajillo chiles, so after eating them up and running them through the blender and frying it I added the sauce to the broth, and thank you for the comment that you made about the cilantro I still get a slight chuckle when I think about that hope you and your family have a very blessed memorable Thanksgiving
I looked up this recipe cause I wanted to make some soup to help my cold and honestly this is pretty close to how I’ve seen my mom make it and it helped me figure out the quantities, since most of my family’s recipes arent written down. We make Mexican rice separately and then add it to the bowl after the soup is done. I’m only cooking for two so this recipe is more than enough for us, it looks great, smells great and it sucks I can’t upload a photo but I added cabbage carrots and golden baby potatoes to mine. I’m gonna use this recipe from now on.
I’m Mexican, but my background and culture has been really watered down sadly. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. I feel like I can make this for my family and we can enjoy it as our standard. I can feel like we’re passing down a family tradition. We’re trying to touch our roots creating new traditions our kids since we kinda lost ours. Thank you so much.
I forgot to add 5 stars!!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Absolutely delicious!! Just like my grandma’s.
Made this on Saturday.
Why do you think your soup has so much sodium? I use no sodium chicken broth, no sodium tomato sauce, some salt, but use cumin to flavor.i can’t see in your recipe why salt so high. Put cabbage in near end. Cooks quickly. Use whole head.
RANELL DAVIS Simply don’t make it if you don’t like the ingredients, that’s it! This is one of the many Mexican recipes so if you don’t like it or agree with it go cook your own recipe.
Question? Could I use cilantro that I have frozen for this soup??
Came out great! My new go to for making caldo de pollo and it was simple and timely! Thank you!!
Thank you for sharing these recipes…….I think it is great that with your Mexican back ground you would share these fantastic recipes……thank you so much……Your friend in cooking……
Thank you recipe was super easy to make and it came out delicious!
Loved it and so easy to make
Incredible and gives me ideas for my future garden thanks ♡
love some of these low cost meals, so great for large families and low income,,,,,,,thank you much,
Very easy to make and my family loved it! THANK YOU!!
Mug Buen. cook Book. Harry Hernandez. Bop4042@icloud. Com
Thank you Yvette for putting your recipe out there I didn’t have most of the ingredients I had a can of El Pato Hot tomato sauce frozen vegetables a can of stewed tomatoes can of green chilies and Frozen cilantro that I keep in the freezer for when I make salsa but it all came together and it tasted really really great thank you I’ll be back for more
A really great chicken soup recipe. I followed the recipe as posted but doubled the rice and added a teaspoon of cumin.
I only use recipes as an outline. This caldo came out very tasty! I choose not to add the tomato sauce, used potato’s instead of rice and added chayote squash. Like she says, feel free to toss whatever veggies in that you like.
love your recipes, full of color and flavor
This is a delicious recipe! The whole family gobbled it up.
I made “ Caldo de Pollo” today. It is warm, wonderful and comforting and extremely delicious.
My family loves it.