Every culture seems to have its iconic chicken soup, and this version of caldo de pollo provides plenty in the way of authentic Mexican comfort food.
Mexican caldo de pollo (literally, “chicken stock”) is little more than a simple broth made with inexpensive and more durable dark thigh meat to which is added a few more solid components, herbs and garnishes. This version includes a Latin American native vegetable called chayote (known as mirliton in the U.S.), an apple-crisp, mild-flavored squash whose starchy flesh cooks and softens like a potato and contributes to both texture and taste.
Another element to an authentic flavor is using culantro in addition to cilantro. Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a long-leaf herb that is popular in the southern states of Mexico, and rarely found outside of Latin communities. It is related to but a different genus than cilantro, with a stronger and more distinct flavor and sometimes referred to as sawtooth or jungle coriander.
Other than these elements, this soup is kept very simple with no spice additions other than salt and pepper so the poultry flavor can remain the feature. Basic aromatics and root vegetables round out the ingredient list, and the dish will accommodate any of numerous substitutions or preferences.
Finish the soup with a garnish of diced avocado, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Serve with warm corn tortillas and butter.
Caldo de Pollo
1 lb chicken thighs
1 rib of celery
2 cloves of garlic
1 red potato
4 leaves culantro
1 Place the chicken in 8 c water and bring to just a bare simmer.
2 Chop the onion, carrot and celery, and mince the garlic. Add to the stock and simmer, covered, over very low heat for at least 1 hr.
3 Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.
4 Dice the chayote and potato, and finely chop the culantro. Add and continue to simmer for another 30 min.
5 Shred the chicken off the bone and add to the soup. Season to taste.