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3 March 2021

Caldo de pollo is the ultimate Mexican chicken soup recipe that’s loaded with flavor, with lots of chunky chicken, vegetables and seasonings simmered in homemade chicken stock. Easy to make!

We’re cooking up some chicken soup in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Would you care for a bowl? Only this isn’t your typical chicken soup, which can be pretty bland and boring.

Today we’re making a hugely popular Mexican Chicken Soup recipe called Caldo de Pollo, and I think you’re going to love it.

Caldo de Pollo means “chicken soup” in Spanish. It’s a traditional dish served in Mexican households and restaurants with lots of chicken and vegetables simmered in chicken stock with lots of seasonings. Usually the chicken stock is made from scratch.

The vegetables vary from cook to cook and really do not define the dish. You can usually include whatever you’d like to make the soup your own.

You’ll find caldo de pollo in many Latin American countries as well. My Puerto Rican cookbooks refer to caldo de pollo as more of a chicken stock or chicken soup base. This is a Mexican style version, spiced up a touch with chiles de arbol peppers, which I love for their good level of heat.

The overall dish isn’t spicy, though, but you can easily spice it up to your own preferred levels. I hope you enjoy it. I love a good bowl of Mexican soup.

Let’s talk about how we make caldo de pollo, shall we?

Chunky Mexican Chicken Soup in a bowl loaded with potatoes, carrots, corn and shredded chicken

Caldo de Pollo Ingredients

  • FOR THE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK
  • Chicken. You can use a whole chicken or your favorite pieces to make caldo de pollo. I used chicken breast with chicken leg and thigh quarters. Try it with chicken legs and wings, too.
  • Water. For the base of the stock.
  • Vegetables. You are free to include your favorites, but I am using onion, celery and garlic.
  • Peppers. I like chiles de arbol peppers, though it’s great with other dried pods.
  • Seasonings. Bay leaves, black peppercorns and salt. I use at least a teaspoon peppercorns, or up to a tablespoon.
  • FOR THE CHICKEN SOUP
  • Vegetables. Again, you can use your favorites, but I am using potatoes, carrots, zucchini, jalapeno peppers, corn, tomatoes and cabbage.
  • Tomato Sauce. For more pronounced tomato flavor. Completely optional for you. I enjoy the added flavor.
  • Lime Juice. To finish, for a pop of acidity.
  • For Serving. Spicy red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, lime wedges.

How to Make Caldo de Pollo – the Recipe Method

MAKE THE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Simmer the Chicken and Vegetables in Water. To a very large pot, add the onions celery and carrots, garlic, chiles de arbol, bay leaves, chicken parts, water, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. You can simmer longer if you’d like to develop more flavor.

Simmering chicken and vegetables in a pot to make caldo de pollo

Shred the Chicken. Carefully remove the chicken and set them into a large bowl. Shred the chicken from the bones and discard the bones. You can keep or discard the chicken skin, as desired. Set aside for now.

Shredding the chicken to make Caldo de Pollo

Strain the Chicken Stock. Strain the chicken stock and discard the solids.

Get the Chicken Soup Going. Add the chicken stock back to the same large pot and heat to a simmer. Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer for 20 minutes. The vegetables should start to become tender.

Second Round of Vegetables. Add the zucchini, jalapenos, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and tomato sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have all become tender to your preference. You can add all of the vegetables at once, but some cook more quickly than others and can get too soft.

Simmering Caldo de Pollo in a pot

Return the Chicken to the Soup. Add the shredded chicken back to the pot and stir in juice from 1 lime. Continue cooking to heat through. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

For Serving. Serve into bowls and garnish with red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges. Enjoy.

Boom! Done! Caldo de pollo is ready to serve! It looks wonderful, doesn’t it? Nice and chunky, a chicken soup lover’s dream. It’s loaded with chicken and lots of healthy and filling veggies. I love Mexican chicken soup. So good.

This recipe makes about 4 quarts. It freezes nicely.

Caldo de Pollo in a bowl

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Other Vegetables. You can easily include other vegetables in your caldo de pollo. This soup was made to load it up. Some favorites include onion, carrots, celery, garlic, green chiles or dried pods, chayote, squash, black beans and others. 
  • Peppers. I added some chiles de arbol to the stock making process, but I sometimes make this soup with dried ancho peppers and/or pasilla peppers or guajillo peppers. You can let them rehydrate in the stock, then remove them, mash or puree them, then swirl them back into the soup for a huge flavor boost.  
  • Tomatoes. Some recipes skip the tomatoes and tomato sauce for a clearer chicken stock base. It’s really optional to you. I enjoy the added flavor of tomato.
  • Variations. Try your caldo de pollo with rice, pasta noodles, other grains. You can make yourself a Mexican chicken noodle soup with fideo noodles!
  • Easy Caldo de Pollo. If you’d like to save time, you can skip the stock making process and use a storebought chicken broth or stock instead. 
  • Serving Ideas. Enjoy your caldo de pollo with tortilla chips for a bit of crunch. Swirl in some sour cream if things get too spicy. Don’t forget the hot sauce. I love to drizzle some in for a touch of heat.

Chunky Caldo de Pollo in a bowl with lots of chicken and vegetables

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this caldo de pollo recipe. It really is the ultimate Mexican chicken soup. It’s so good! Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Mike taking a scoop of chunky Caldo de Pollo from a bowl

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Chunky Caldo de Pollo in a bowl with lots of chicken and vegetables
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Caldo de Pollo Recipe (Mexican Chicken Soup)

Caldo de pollo is the ultimate Mexican chicken soup recipe that is loaded with flavor, with lots of chunky chicken, vegetables and seasonings simmered in homemade chicken stock. Easy to make!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: carrots, chicken, chile de arbol, potatoes, soup, zucchini
Servings: 16 cups
Calories: 192kcal

Ingredients

FOR THE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces use a whole chicken or your favorite pieces
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 1 large onion rough chopped
  • 2 celery stalks rough chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic rough chopped
  • 5 chile de arbol peppers you can use other dried pods, if desired
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt

FOR THE CHICKEN SOUP

  • 3 potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 zucchinis cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 jalapeno peppers sliced (if desired)
  • 2 ears of corn quartered
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 head cabbage chopped
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Other optional vegetables and seasonings see recipe notes

FOR SERVING

  • Spicy red pepper flakes fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, lime wedges

Instructions

MAKE THE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

  • To a very large pot, add the chicken parts with the water, onion, celery, garlic, chiles de arbol, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. You can simmer longer if you'd like to develop more flavor.
  • Carefully remove the chicken and set them into a large bowl. Shred the chicken from the bones and discard the bones. You can keep or discard the chicken skin, as desired. Set aside for now.
  • Strain the chicken stock and discard the solids.

MAKE THE CALDO DE POLLO (Chicken Soup)

  • Add the chicken stock back to the same large pot and heat to a simmer. Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer for 20 minutes. The vegetables should start to become tender.
  • Add the zucchini, jalapenos, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and tomato sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have all become tender to your preference.
  • Add the shredded chicken back to the pot and stir in juice from 1 lime. Heat through. Taste and adjust for salt.
  • Serve into bowls and garnish with red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges. Enjoy.

Notes

Makes about 4 quarts.
You can easily include other vegetables in your caldo de pollo. This soup was made to load it up. Some favorites include onion, celery, garlic, peppers, chayote, squash, beans and others. 
Some recipes skip the tomatoes and tomato sauce for a clearer chicken stock base.
Try your caldo de pollo with rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 577mg | Potassium: 568mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1781IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg