I recently spent a week with a stomach bug, which meant a lot of not eating. While my clothes were fitting better, it wasn’t very fun. After a couple days of self-starvation I decided to go to an old faithful recipe to ease myself back into real food again. This is a favorite dish of mine that’s good for just about any occasion…cold Sunday mornings during the winter or hot summer days where a little fresh vege is all you need to relax.
Originally, this recipe came from someone I knew who grew up down in the south Texas valley. I have no idea if it’s authentic “Mexican” food or not, but it’s a damn good recipe and one that you’ll go back to when you get stuck for something to make in a pinch.
-2 split chicken breasts
-four russet potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
-1 large yellow onion
-diced garlic, 3-4 cloves
-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
-3 chicken bouillon cubes
-a head of cabbage
-1 zucchini, halved and chopped
-chicken broth to fill in as needed
Start with a stock pot ½ full of water. Take it to a boil and throw in some salt. Not too much, but enough to soften the water.
Three bouillon cubes:
Concentrated flavor. Great for soups.
Take that up to a boil and make sure the cubes are dissolved.
Drop a couple of split chicken breasts in and let them cook. Should take 15min or so. No rush…all the fat from the skin and bone needs to melt off.
When they are good and cooked, drop them into an ice bath (makes them easier to handle).
Quarter an onion and chop the garlic.
Drop in the potatoes. Cut them big b/c they’ll cook down. You want bite sized chunks, and they will break up on their own in the soup.
Carrots go in, too. They bring an incredible sweetness to the soup.
Vege so far. Give it a taste to see if it needs some salt. I’d add a little pepper in as well, but not too much.
And drop in the zucchini.
At this point, you want to get the chicken out and start pulling it apart into shreds. Try to get as much meat and all that as possible. You can do this step at any point, really, but the chicken will be really hot and hard to pull apart when it’s really hot. I like to put the skin and fat back in to cook. You can remove it before you serve. Let it cook for 30min-hour or so on a low slow boil, covered.
Wash your cabbage down and then chop off the stem at the bottom.
Quarter that bad boy.
And then take out the bottom of the core on all the quarters. It’s tough to eat.
Do a rough chop on this….it will fall apart and go pretty limp, so no worries if you get some big slices in there.
Crumbled it on top of the soup (don’t stir it in). Sprinkle a pretty healthy amount of kosher salt on top of it, then cover for 10 minutes to let it wilt under the steam. This will preserve some of the green color in the leaves and the salt will push a lot of the water out of the cabbage. After it’s good and limp, stir it in.
This is what it should look like. Gorgeous color from the carrots, onion, chicken, and the cabbage. Give it a good taste and season it with more salt/pepper. If you want it hot, hit it with a couple shots of Cholula sauce or some clear pepper sauce. Not too much, though. I usually add just enough to give it a little spice and then serve it with the pepper sauce so people can adjust as they want.
Your potatoes should be reduced down to this:
Right before you serve, turn off the heat. Chop up a bunch of cilantro, and dump the cilantro on top.
Cover it for a couple minutes, then stir it in.
The cilantro adds such a big fresh taste to the soup, but you don’t want to add it until right before you serve. Plus, you don’t want to cook it or the leaves will lose their texture.
Garnish with some fresh lime a sprig of cilantro, and you’ve got a tasty afternoon soup. It’s a pretty good reheater for leftovers, but it’s best right out of the pot when the cilantro is still perfumey.
Caldo de Pollo. Get some.