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Milk Street Bowtie Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chipotle Chilies (Caldo Tlalpeño)

Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chipotle Chilies (Caldo Tlalpeño)

6 Servings

1 hour

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In Mexico City, Josefina López Méndez, chef at Chapulín restaurant, taught us to make a chicken and vegetable soup brimming with texture, colors and layers of delicious flavors. Called caldo tlalpeño, Mendez’ soup was boldly seasoned with aromatics such as tomatoes, onion and garlic, and was subtly smoky and spicy with chipotle chilies. Shredded chicken plus vegetables cooked until just tender gave the soup substance. Chickpeas, we later learned, are a common ingredient in classic caldo tlalpeño, but Méndez favors rice—she ladled the finished soup over already cooked rice that had been divided among individual bowls. In adapting her recipe, we slightly streamlined the process, using some of the broth that becomes the soup to steam the rice. Last-minute garnishes—avocado, cheese and cilantro—soften with the heat of the broth, their flavors and aromas mixing and mingling. Méndez offered a charred habanero salsa on the side to be stirred in to taste by diners. The spicy, tangy, bitter notes made the soup even more dynamic. Our version of her salsa follows; we highly recommend making a batch if you can, though the soup is terrific even without.

6

Servings

Tip

Don’t cook the vegetables past the point of tender-crisp. They will continue to soften from the residual heat of the soup after the pot is removed from the heat.

1 hour

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 large white onion, quartered
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bunch cilantro, stems roughly chopped, leaves chopped, reserved separately
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced about ¼ inch thick
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch pieces
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
2 ounces (½ cup) queso fresco cheese, crumbled, or queso Oaxaca cheese, shredded
Charred habanero salsa, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Ingredients
  • 1

    pound ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

  • 1

    large white onion, quartered

  • 2

    chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1

    bunch cilantro, stems roughly chopped, leaves chopped, reserved separately

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 2

    pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

  • 2

    quarts low-sodium chicken broth

  • cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained

  • 2

    medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced about ¼ inch thick

  • 12

    ounces green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped

  • 2

    ounces (½ cup) queso fresco cheese, crumbled, or queso Oaxaca cheese, shredded

  • Lime wedges, to serve

Directions

Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chipotle Chilies (Caldo Tlalpeño)

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Reviews
Miranda R.
December 18, 2022
Transported me back to La Cuidad de Mexico!
Made this last night for dinner. Delicioso! A little tedious to make but so worth it. The flavor was amazing. Best chicken soup ever. My husband makes a caldo and this is a far superior soup. Honestly I felt I was in Coyoacan eating dinner in the zocolo. Thank you.
Maria L.
July 30, 2022
Caldo Tlalpeño is the best!
We tried this soup in Oaxaca and wanted to have it again. This made us travel back there. So full of flavors and spices at the right level. Added to the favorite list!
Melissa L.
December 30, 2022
Love this recipe
The recipe is excellent, and just as another reviewer mentioned, this reminds me of the soup I would eat living in Mexico City. I used lots of ‘flavor bomb’ tomatoes the first time I made the soup since the vine ripened tomatoes near me are not at all flavorful during the winter. I made it again yesterday and out of laziness used 1lb can of cento crushed tomatoes and it turned out excellent.
Denis P.

Would this still be good with canned tomatoes?

Lynn C.

Hi Denis -

We never tested this with canned tomatoes since we were adapting an authentic recipe we had in Mexico made with fresh tomatoes, so we can't give a substitution recommendation. That being said, it should definitely work with canned tomatoes. Just hard to know and exact amount to substitute with without testing it.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sean K.

You're kidding, right? You feature—on the *cover* of Jan/Feb 2022 no less—a recipe which calls for fresh tomatoes? And you didn't even test it with canned? Please take the extra step in the future and *know your audience*. The majority of your subscribers are in North America and getting fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter is a laughable prospect. Save publication of recipes like this for August or September!

Now, that said, I'm hoping Denis will report back on the experience of using canned in this. A pity a reader has to do the legwork the magazine staff should have done.

Lynn C.

Hi Sean -

I understand that this seems an odd choice for January/February, but soup is an ideal winter meal. Vine-ripened tomatoes from the supermarket are perfect for this recipe (it's what we used), always ripe, and are widely available.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Lynn C.

Hi Sean -

I understand that this seems an odd choice for January/February, but soup is an ideal winter meal. Vine-ripened tomatoes from the supermarket are perfect for this recipe (it's what we used), always ripe, and are widely available.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Sean K.

You're kidding, right? You feature—on the *cover* of Jan/Feb 2022 no less—a recipe which calls for fresh tomatoes? And you didn't even test it with canned? Please take the extra step in the future and *know your audience*. The majority of your subscribers are in North America and getting fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter is a laughable prospect. Save publication of recipes like this for August or September!

Now, that said, I'm hoping Denis will report back on the experience of using canned in this. A pity a reader has to do the legwork the magazine staff should have done.

Lynn C.

Hi Sean -

I understand that this seems an odd choice for January/February, but soup is an ideal winter meal. Vine-ripened tomatoes from the supermarket are perfect for this recipe (it's what we used), always ripe, and are widely available.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Lynn C.

Hi Sean -

I understand that this seems an odd choice for January/February, but soup is an ideal winter meal. Vine-ripened tomatoes from the supermarket are perfect for this recipe (it's what we used), always ripe, and are widely available.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Sean K.

All right Ms Clark, I am appropriately chastised.

The temperature plummeted here and I needed some hot soup badly, so I decided to try your advice and use the tomatoes-on-the-vine. Now, I've since learned that those TOVs are picked at the "breaking" stage rather than green, and the vine probably does nothing to affect flavor. But keeping the vine intact encourages better handling, so they tomatoes arrive at the store in better condition for having been picked later.

The soup cooked up nicely, and the tomato flavor was subtle, providing more of a sweet/umami backdrop against the herbal niceties of the cilantro and sharpness of the onion. I think I would've used even more chipotle as I like things spicy and smoky. My local store was out of zucchini (incredibly) but they did have chayote which I substituted, and I'm glad I did because it was fantastic in the soup. Its firmer flesh held up to the cooking and gave a great textural contrast. Maybe it made it more authentic—I don't know! The habanero salsa made for a beautiful drizzle.

In any case, I remain sufficiently upbraided—but also abundantly warm thanks to you and Milk Street.

Warmly,
—SK

Kristina F.

I made this with a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes, and it turned out fabulous.

John M.

When I saw this recipe in the recent issue of the magazine, I knew I had to make it right away. And am I glad I did. This is an exquisite soup that was deeply delicious in so many ways! I made this exactly as written (incl. the rice instructions), using vine-ripe tomatoes from the store (..it's January. What can I say?). I also added a can of Goya chickpeas when I saw that they were in the classic version of this dish because....why not? I didn't make the salsa, but will do it next time. And there will be a next time! By then I hope that I can use some home-grown tomatoes. I suspect that this soup might even taste better the next day. I'll leave an additional comment if that's true. Thank you, Ms. Méndez, Ms. Unger and the Milk Street team for sharing this recipe with us.

John R.

I made this and it was very good. I might have been a little heavy handed with the adobo chili as it was about as hot as I would have wanted (followed the recipe). I could have used a little more chicken, but all in all, this is a fairly simple and straightforward recipe that definitely tasted better day 2. I hope it freezes well as I doubled the recipe. Thanks CK!!

Michael P.

I made this recipe and it's pretty great. However, people checking out this recipe should be advised that it will take a lot longer than the 1 hour stated. In fact, if you add up just the cooking/blender times mentioned you arrive at 71 mins in the best case scenario. It took me more like 2 hr 15m to make this (while also making the habanero salsa), but maybe I'm slow... But it is in fact, not possible to make this in an hour given the times in the recipe itself.

Gwen S.

Love this recipe ! It’s so special and full of chicken goodness.
Next time I’ll experiment with adding more chipotle, not too spicy as is

Tony L.

This was a wonderful soup and even better as leftovers. My only addition was it did not have enough liquid so I will add 2 more cups of chicken stock.