Caldo de Pollo

published Jan 11, 2022
Caldo de Pollo Recipe

The key to this recipe is to start with a very tasty homemade chicken broth and to use the vegetables that you have at home.

Serves5 to 6

Makes10 cups

Prep25 minutes

Cook45 minutes

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Caldo De Pollo (a common Latin American soup that consists of chicken and vegetables) garnished with avocado slices, in a gray bowl
Credit: Susy Villasuso

Caldo de pollo is a staple recipe in Mexican homes — one that you grow up with and just know how to prepare instinctively. I remember being small watching my grandma and mother preparing it in their kitchens. The key is to start with a very tasty homemade chicken broth and to use the vegetables that you have at home.

A nice caldo de pollo is considered more than just a soup because it has everything you need for a wholesome meal: the chicken and broth that serve as protein, vegetables that provide vitamins and minerals, and rice for much-needed carbs. Because it’s comforting, budget-friendly, and very nutritious, it’s the perfect recipe to feed your family. It’s also commonly considered to be a go-to home remedy for when you’re feeling unwell or need a warm recipe to make you feel at home.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

  • A good broth: Homemade is always better, but to save time you can also use store-bought broth. Because broth is the key component of this recipe, just make sure it’s good-quality and preferably low in sodium.
  • Chicken: Making your own broth at home is a good way to poach the chicken for your soup. But on a day when you have a little less time, you can shred and add rotisserie chicken.
  • Vegetables: Caldo is traditionally made with chayote, carrots, celery, zucchini, and, especially when in season, corn. But feel free to use other vegetables you already have at home. Good substitutions include potatoes, green beans, and spinach.
Credit: Susy Villasuso

How to Serve Caldo de Pollo

A typical caldo de pollo is always served with cooked vegetables and shredded poached chicken, and in Mexico we always like to add garnishes and toppings, too. Here are a few favorite ideas.

  • Avocado slices: Simply scoop or add slices of creamy avocado to your chicken soup. It’s the perfect accompaniment.
  • Something spicy: Add a kick to your broth for that last perfect touch. You can either add finely chopped fresh serrano pepper or jalapeño or a bit of chipotle chillies in adobo. If you have homemade spicy salsa, even better.
  • Lime juice: A squeeze of fresh lime is always a lovely addition to any broth, and it’s especially nice with chicken soup.
  • Fresh herbs: Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro leaves on top of your caldo, or use parsley.

Caldo de Pollo Recipe

The key to this recipe is to start with a very tasty homemade chicken broth and to use the vegetables that you have at home.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Makes 10 cups

Serves 5 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    bone-in chicken legs (about 2)

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 5)

  • 1

    large white onion, divided

  • 1 bunch

    fresh cilantro, divided

  • 3 large cloves

    garlic, divided

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    whole black peppercorns

  • 2 1/2 quarts


  • 4

    medium carrots

  • 3 stalks


  • 1

    large zucchini

  • 2 ears


  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 cup

    basmati rice

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Avocado slices and lime wedges, for serving


  1. Place 1 pound skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a large pot or Dutch oven. Cut 1 large white onion in half, leaving the skin on, and place half into the pot. Add 1/2 bunch of the fresh cilantro (with stems), 2 of the large garlic cloves (unpeeled), 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.

  2. Add 2 1/2 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, skimming the top occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and broth is fragrant, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and dice the remaining white onion half. Peel and mince the remaining 1 large garlic clove. Peel 4 medium carrots and thinly slice crosswise into small rounds (about 2 cups). Finely chop 3 celery stalks. Halve 1 large zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch wide half moons. Remove the silks and husks from 2 ears corn and cut each ear into 4 pieces.

  3. When the stock ready, remove the pot from the heat. Use tongs to transfer the cooked chicken to a medium bowl. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a very large heatproof bowl or container(s); discard the contents of the strainer. When cool enough to handle, use your hands to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard the skin and bones. Clean and dry the pot.

  4. Place 1/2 cup basmati rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water briefly to remove the excess starch. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems from the remaining 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro.

  5. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion begins to turn translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, celery, and carrots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the stock, chicken, corn, remaining 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer until the rice is cooked through and the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed

  6. Serve caldo de pollo warm, making sure there is a bit of everything for each portion. Garnish with the cilantro and avocado slices, and squeeze fresh lime juice on top.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The homemade chicken stock can be made 1 day ahead of time. Refrigerate the stock and poached and shredded chicken in separate airtight containers.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently in a saucepan.