Chicken & Vegetable Soup with a Latin Flare

One thing I love to cook and eat in the winter is caldo de pollo, which in English translates to chicken soup. Caldo is a common Latin American soup that consists of hearty cut vegetables and meat. My Mexican Mom and Grandma always made this for me as a child, usually with spare ribs but my favorite is with chicken (I like thighs, but you can use drumsticks or breasts). I also like plenty of cabbage but if a whole head is too much for you, you can just add half a head. This is a great dish to make on the weekends so you can have plenty of time to nurse the broth, and the left overs last up to two days in the refrigerator. There are two common sides that are served with caldo: corn tortillas and rice. I am also going to include the recipe for Mexican rice. Here we go!

Caldo de Pollo

Serves 4
Total time to prep/cook: approx. 1 hr. 30 min.

-1 lb. chicken thighs (bone in, skin removed)
-1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. pieces
-1 zucchini, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
-1 large baking potato, peeled and cut in 1 in. pieces
-1 medium onion, halved and cut in thin slices
-1 head of cabbage, cut in half, core removed, cut each half into quarters
-sprigs of cilantro
-salt and pepper

1. Fill a large pot a little more than half way with water, salt heavily and bring to boil. Once boiling, add chicken thighs, once water comes back to boil lower heat to a simmer and cover. Let chicken simmer for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Next add the carrots and potatoes, cover and simmer. You may need to bring the heat back up to simmer then lower so it's not boiling. Let cook for about 5 - 7 minutes. Taste broth for seasoning, add more salt, if needed and pepper.

3. Then add the remaining vegetables (zucchini, cabbage, onion) except for cilantro, which will be added last. Bring heat back up to simmer. Taste again for seasoning. Cook covered for another 5 minutes, til all vegetables are done. Then add cilantro. Lower heat to just a tiny simmer, cover.

Mexican Rice:
Serves 4-6
Total time to prep/cook: approx. 30 min.

-1 cup long grain rice
-2 cups of water
-2 tablespoons tomato sauce
-1 tablespoon caldo de tomate (tomato bouillon w/ chicken flavor)
-1/2 medium onion, diced
-1 tablespoon canola oil

1. In a sauce pan with a tightly fitted lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add rice and toast for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water.

2. Next flavor the water by adding tomato sauce (to give color) then tomato bouillon. Taste to make sure is seasoned properly. Add more bouillon if needed. Then add onion.

3. Bring to a light boil, then lower to simmer and cover. Set timer for 20 minutes, do not lift lid. When done, serve on the side or in the caldo.


The Year of the Ox--New Year's Goodies and a Soup

A new president, a new economic era, and a Chinese New Year. The Year of the Ox begins next week on January 26th. According to Wikipedia, "The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work." But since all work and no play would make the Ox a dull year, here are some fun things that can accompany you into the new year:

In anticipation of the New Year it is important to clean everything. Nordea's Soaperie has just the thing for you: Citrus Laundry Soap

The New Year is also a time to acquire a new outfit, if possible in red since this color is known to scare away the mythical beast Nian. Nian devoured everything in sight on the first day of the new year but was afraid of red. So protect yourself with one of these garments:

A new outfit needs to be adorned with matching earrings:

finish it off with a ring from Lia and Adornments NYC's dragonfly necklace (but careful, dragonflies symbolize rapid change).

Now it's time to decorate your newly cleaned home. How about a koi fish painting symbolizing love and friendship by C Line Creations.

Or Bill as crafted by Karen's Monsters, who stands for, well, Bill.

If all this cleaning, decorating, and shopping has made you hungry, maybe you should fortify yourself with my mother's wonton soup:

Wonton Soup

Soup Ingredients:
8 cups of chicken stock
3 shallots
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
Wonton Ingredients:
25 wonton wrappers
1 beaten egg
1lb ground pork
1/4 small cabbage, finely shredded
1 TB soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Combine the ground pork with the cabbage, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Mix well.
Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Brush around the edges of the wrapper with some beaten egg. Fold the wrapper diagonally in half forming a triangle. Brush some beaten egg on the left and right corners of the triangle, bring the corners together and seal them with a pinch.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock, shallots and sesame oil to a rapid boil. Drop the wontons into the boiling soup and cook them until they float to the top (10-15 min).

Serve them in one of May Luk Ceramics' beautiful bowls.