Mexican Chicken Soup / Caldo de Pollo

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Chicken Soup is one of those comfort foods that has no borders, and traditional Mexican cooks have a special place for it, too. I know everyone has their own way of preparing it, and their particular choice of vegetables or herbs to cook it with, but in the end it’s a simple soup that can warm you up during a cold day or make you feel better when you’re sick. After all, there is nothing more satisfying  than a bowl of homemade chicken soup when you are under the weather.

Many regional cooks in Mexico use cilantro or flat parsley in their chicken soup, but some homemakers in the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Veracruz  use an herb called

“culantro”. It is also called “cilantro” or “perejil ranchero” among other many names for their chicken soups. This herb has a similar flavor to the common cilantro but a little bit stronger.  I really like the aroma and flavor it gives to the Chicken Soup,  it remains me of the small markets in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, where there was this lady that used to sell herbs right at the main entrance of the market and the culantro was always the welcoming aroma. If you ever find it at the Latin Store, stop by and smell it, or better yet, buy it to use  in your next chicken soup. Since it has a stronger aroma, a couple of leaves are enough to flavor a soup.
Culantro, Cilantro or Perejil Ranchero. Photo courtesy of

  • 1 whole chicken (About 3-4 pounds), cut out in pieces *See Notes
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 Celery branches
  • 3 Large carrots, cut into 3 pieces each 
  • 2 Cilantro branches
To Garnish:
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 Cilantro branches, chopped
  • Cooked white rice (optional)
  • Warm corn tortillas

  • * Sometimes I make 1/2 a chicken, or  only use chicken legs, thighs, ribs and wings since those parts render a flavorful broth.
  • ** You can also add other vegetables to your soup like zucchini, chayotes, green beans and potatoes.
  • * All the garnishes are optional, but it does taste heavenly with all of them.
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1.Place chicken, water and salt into a large stock pot and  at medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once foam starts forming on the surface, skim and discard.

2. After removing the foam, add the onion, garlic and celery. Partially cover the pot. Turn heat down and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not boil.

3. Add the carrots, cilantro and if you are using other vegetables, add them 15 minutes later since carrots take longer to cook. Check the chicken for doneness and, once cooked, remove and set aside to cool.

4. Keep simmering the broth for about 10 more minutes until carrots are completely cooked.

5. When the chicken pieces have cooled, shred it or cut into small bite-sized pieces. Dice the carrots once they are cooked and set aside.Chicken Soup2a
6. Strain the broth using a large fine mesh strainer. Return the broth to the pot and let it settle for about 8-10 minutes,  remove the fat that rises to the surfaces using a large spoon. If you are not using the broth right away you can skim off the fat after placing the broth for some time in the fridge.  
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7. Turn the heat on to low to warm up and check if it needs more salt to your taste. When ready to serve, place some cooked rice (if using),  a serving of shredded chicken, carrots, and stir in the warm broth. Let everyone garnish their own soup.

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¡Buen provecho!

What is your favorite soup?


  1. Wooooooooooo Mely que rico, me encanta tu versión, mil gracias besitos amiga.

  2. thanks for the information about this varitety of cilantro. soup looks very comforting

  3. Qué rico!
    Oye nunca había visto ese tipo de cilantro, cada día se aprende algo nuevo.

    Un abrazo

    1. Hola Flavio,

      No es muy conocido en otras partes de México, pero es muy rico. Lo bueno que aqui se consigue ya que tembien se consume en los paises de Centro America, y aqui hay mucha gente de alla.


    2. No es el que le llaman epazote en Guadalajara México? Saludos de un tapatío que reside en Vallejo CA.

    3. Hola franky,

      No es Epazote, la hierba es muy diferente. Muy aromática y con uns hojas más largas que el epazote.
      Saludos hasta Vallejo, CA.

  4. this looks wonderful and would love to try this herb

  5. That is awesome meal and hardy soup Mely Love it.

  6. Mely yo tampoco había visto esa clase de hierba, hasta ahorita. Qué rico se ve tu caldo se me antoja muchísimo!

  7. Wow, no sabía que había tantas verduras en caldo de pollo. Personalmente siempre me he hecho con las patas de pollo, papas, zanahorias, y algunos puñados de fideos y sirven con tortillas de maíz y limón, y supongo que cada uno tiene su propia receta.

    english translation for the ladies ;)

    wow, i did not know that there was so many veggies in caldo de pollo. I personally have always made it with just chicken legs, potatoes, carrots, and a few handfuls of noodles and serve it with corn tortillas and limes. i guess everyone has their own recipe.

    1. Hello deetergirl,

      As I mentioned above, every cook has their own "caldo de pollo" recipe. I bet yours must be really tasty, with those chicken feet or legs, and seems like it looks a lot like the fideo with chicken recipe I have here in the blog. Go check it out maybe it resembles yours.

      Thank you for stopping by and happy cooking!

  8. I tried your Caldo de Pollo and must say it was delicious!! I put Fideo's in it instead of rice and as they say, "Que Sobroso." Hope that's the correct spellingl Again, thank you for your wonderful recipes and illustrations.

  9. John Cochrane (Ottawa, ON)December 29, 2016 at 1:31 PM


    This is hands down the most flavourful Chicken Soup I've ever made!!!

    My wife has a horrible cold, so I thought I would make this for her. . . the directions are easy to follow, and I added Zucchini after the carrots. . . she loved it!!

    Thank you so much for all of your excellent recipes and this one in particular!!!


    1. Hello John,

      I hope your wife gets better soon. Thank you for trying the recipe.
      Best wishes all the way to Ottawa!


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