Friday, January 21, 2011

Caldo de Pollo con Calabasa

There's nothing like homemade chicken soup!  It comforts the soul, it's a cure for the blues and even a temporary cure for a cold (at least I think so).
Caldo de Pollo is Spanish for chicken soup and there are many, many varieties when it comes to the Mexican kitchen.  There is the famous tortilla soup that includes strips of corn tortilla, and there is also the classic caldo with different veggies.  Growing up, my mother made the classic caldo during the winter time with a side of Spanish rice  :)

My favorite version of Caldo de Pollo includes a good amount of calabasa, Spanish for squash.  I use zucchini and yellow squash in my caldo and believe me, it is DELICIOSO!

Making caldo is quite labor intensive and requires almost a full day of cooking.  This is because I make the chicken broth homemade.  Of course you can shave off about 3-4 hours of cooking time by using store bought chicken stock and buying a rotisserie chicken, but there is something about homemade broth that tastes so much better!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
Chicken Stock:
1 whole chicken cut-up, about 3-4 lbs.
12 cups cold water (or enough water to cover the chicken and vegetables)
1 large yellow onion
2 carrots cut in half
3 stalks celery, cut in half
1 bay leaf
3 stems of thyme
3 stems of parsley
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse off the chicken and put in large stock pot.
Pour the cold water over the chicken.  Put the water on high heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 1 hour.  Foam will begin to form on top of the water so make sure to skim this off with a spoon.
After 1 hour, add the vegetables, salt and pepper, and herbs and cook for 3 more hours on low.  Continue to skim off the foam.

Take the chicken out of the pot and put aside (the meat might fall off the bones so be careful when taking the chicken out).  Strain the stock using a cheesecloth lined mesh strainer.  Pour the strained stock into a clean pot and set the chicken aside.  Discard the vegetables and herbs.

Caldo de Pollo con Calabasa
2-3 zucchini
2-3 yellow squash
1 medium yellow onion
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 small bag frozen corn
salt and pepper
Shredded Chicken
*This is from the chicken used when making the stock.  Once the chicken has cooled a little, start taking the meat off the bones and discard the bones and skin.  Shred the meat and put aside.

The strained chicken stock should be in the pot you want to use to make the caldo.  Put the heat on medium-low and allow the stock to warm up again.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and put into the pot.
Cut the zucchini and squash so that they are in the round shape (see picture).  Put into the pot and put heat on medium to medium-high.
Add the can of diced tomatoes and begin to add the tomato paste.  You can add as much tomato paste as you want, it just depends on how much you like the flavor of tomato.

Don't forget to add salt and pepper!
Let the vegetables cook  for about 20 minutes, then add the chicken and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
Add the frozen corn and let cook for about 10 minutes.  
Taste the caldo and add salt and pepper if needed.

I like to slice fresh avocado and add it to my soup.   I also make a fresh pico de gallo and add it to my soup.
If time permits, make some Spanish rice and put it in your bowl of soup along with the avocado and pico de gallo!
Oh yea, squeeze some fresh lime over your bowl of soup for that extra zing  :)