In lieu of my month old cold and chilly LA weather, my girl Paola and I decided to share with all of you the perfect Caldo de Pollo recipe. We tweaked her original recipe a bit by substituting a couple of the herbs with my favorite hierba santa plant, native of Oaxaca. Chances are you won't find this herb at your local grocery store, but I assure you that any one of your Oaxaca native friends can help you score a couple of leaves. If not, you can always stop by my restaurant and steal couple from our plant outside ;)
This was soup was a real miracle worker. I've had this lingering cough for a month and this soup me quedo como anillo al dedo.
Happy cooking y'all!
Working Ahead: You can prepare the broth and chicken a day ahead or so. Refrigerate the broth and chicken pieces separately. (It’ll be easier to degrease the broth if you chill it). Flavoring the broth and finishing the soup should be done shortly before serving.
One 3—4 pound chicken, cut up (into thighs, wings, breasts, and back)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
5 bay leaves
3 Hierba Santa Leaves (can be substituted for: 1/2 teaspoon of Marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme and 2 springs fresh mint)
1 pound tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
8 small (about 1 pound) waxy potatoes (such as white, yukon or red), scrubbed and sliced into quarters
3 to 4 fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges for serving
1. Measure 4 quarts of water into a large soup pot (an 8-quart pot works best here). Add the chicken back, neck and wings along with 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Skim off the grayish foam that rises during the next couple of minutes. Add the garlic, half of the onion, the bay leaves, hierba santa (or marjoram and thyme) and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Add the legs and thighs and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the breast pieces. When the broth returns to a simmer, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the mint (if used), carrots and potatoes. Partially cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but firm. Taste the soup and season it with salt if needed, usually about a teaspoon.
3. Serve in large wide soup bowls and place 1 or 2 pieces of chicken and a piece of each vegetable. Serve soup with the remaining onion in a small bowl and set on the table along with the chopped chiles, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges, for guests to sprinkle on or squeeze in to their liking. Guests will need a knife and fork for the chicken.