Caldo Tlalpeño

Caldo Tlalpeno

The addition of chipotle in adobo elevates this Mexican chicken soup to a regional favorite known as Caldo Tlalpeño.

More than just a variation of caldo de pollo, this recipe originates in the borough of Tlalpan in the southern part of Mexico City. As with many soups, it began as street food with a vendor adding chipotle chiles to the broth to distinguish their wares. Authentic recipes consist of just a spicy tomato broth flavored with the chile and a handful of shredded chicken and avocado.

Of course, over time that simple original recipe saw the addition of a variety of garden vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, green beans, zucchini and even other chiles like poblano. One of the defining ingredients became chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), most likely from a Mediterranean cultural influence.

Apart from their dried form, chipotle chiles are often found commercially packed in small cans as chipotles en adobo. Adobo in this sense is a spicy marinade made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar and spices, all of which are enhanced by the rehydrated whole chiles. Just on its own, this sauce has many different culinary applications, used here to impart flavor and color to the broth.

Starches like quinoa or rice were also added later, especially when proteins like chicken, pork or even rabbit were not abundant. Like many basic soups, the version shown here handles most additions and further customizations easily and seamlessly. However, the original recipe did not contain any grains.

Finish the soup with avocado slices, cheese and a squeeze of lime. Fried tortilla strips for texture would also not be unwelcome.

Caldo Tlalpeño

2 chicken thighs
1 chipotle chile (in adobo)
1 T adobo sauce
3 tomatoes
½ yellow onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
15.5-oz can of chickpeas
1 c green beans
1 t cumin
4 c chicken stock
bay leaf
corn oil
black pepper

1 Chop the onion and carrot, and mince the garlic. Sauté in oil over medium heat until soft, about 5-10 min.

2 Purée together the tomatoes, chile with adobo, cumin and 1 c water. Add to the pot and briefly fry for 2-3 min.

3 Add the stock, chickpeas, beans, bay leaf and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 min.

4 Remove the chicken and shred when cool enough to handle. Return to the pot along with chopped cilantro, and season to taste.

Garnish with queso fresco, crema, diced avocado, lime and fried tortilla strips


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