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Perfectly spicy and filling, Caldo Tlalpeño is a Mexican chicken soup that really hits the spot! Serve it with arroz rojo (Mexican rice) and a warm tortilla filled with melty cheese.
Caldo tlalpeño is like chicken soup’s cooler, Mexican cousin. It gets its signature redness from lots of chipotle and tomatoes, making it spicy and smokey at the same time.
Served with avocado, crema, and cheese, this soup is packed with enough creamy richness to balance out the heat. Tender veggies like potatoes, carrots, and zucchini provide a heartiness that melts in your mouth and fills your belly.
Why You’ll Love This Caldo Tlalpeño Recipe
Besides being extremely flavorful, here are more reasons to love this easy Mexican recipe:
- Family-friendly. With 8 hearty servings, a potful of this soup is more than enough for a family dinner.
- Easy. There are no complicated techniques or ingredients in this recipe. All you need is a blender, a soup pot and simple ingredients from a regular grocery store.
- Flavorful. The finished soup is spicy and rich with tender pieces of chicken and veggies.
What Is Caldo Tlalpeño?
Caldo tlalpeño is a popular Mexican soup from the Tlalpan neighborhood in Mexico City, where it is thought to have first originated in a street stall. It is basically chicken soup with chipotle for a bit of spiciness and redness. It is also commonly served with chickpeas but some recipes don’t call for it, so it depends on the cook.
How to Make Caldo Tlalpeño
Here’s a quick overview for how to make caldo tlalpeño. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for ingredients and complete instructions.
- Cook the chicken. Place the chicken in a large pot and cover it with water. Add the onion, olive oil, spices and some of the garlic. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Then lower the temperature to medium-low and let the chicken cook for 35-40 minutes. Add more water as needed so that the chicken is always covered. Remove the scum with a spoon. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside.
- Shred the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pot using a slotted spoon, then shred it using two forks or chop it up with a knife. Add the chicken back to the soup pot.
- Blend the tomatoes. Scoop about 1 cup of chicken broth into the blender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and chipotle. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Add this to the soup pot.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat. Stir to combine. Add the potatoes and carrots. Let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
- Add the zucchini and chickpeas. The reason we add these later is so that the zucchini doesn’t get mushy. Add to the pot, stir, then cook for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust your seasonings.
- Add cilantro & taste. Add the cilantro into the pot. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Then give your soup a final taste and adjust as needed.
- Serve. Remove the pot from the heat. Serve with diced avocado and a swirl of Mexican crema.
How to Serve Mexican Tlalpeño Soup
I love making Mexican red rice to serve with this soup. Often the soup is spooned into each bowl of soup, which makes each serving even more hearty and satisfying. For extra topping ideas, I recommend crushed chicharron.
On the side, you can pair caldo with taquitos, chiles rellenos, or quesadillas.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Fridge. Refrigerate any cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- To reheat. Reheat it by popping it into the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until warm. If you prefer to do it on the stove, pour it into a small pot over medium heat and let it heat for 4-5 minutes or until warm.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, however, be aware that the texture of the veggies will change when the soup is thawed. Place the soup in a freezer-friendly container to freeze it for up to 3 months. Make sure you leave 1″ of headspace so that the soup has room to expand as it freezes.
More Easy Soup Recipes
- Albondigas Soup
- Chicken Tortellini Soup
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Knoephla Soup
- Avgolemono Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Soup
For the soup:
- 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Water, for boiling
- 5 garlic cloves, divided use
- 3 medium Roma tomatoes
- 2-3 chipotles in adobo
- 2 medium potatoes, diced*
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin half moons
- 1 medium green zucchini, cut into half moons
- 1 15- oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, according to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Mexican red rice
- Chihuahua cheese
- Diced avocado
- Mexican crema
- Cook the chicken. Place the chicken, onion, cumin, oregano, olive oil and 3 minced garlic cloves in a large pot. Cover with water by about 3 inches. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to medium-low and let the chicken cook at a simmer for 35-40 minutes. Add more water as needed so that the chicken is always covered. Use a spoon or strainer to remove the scum from the top.
- Shred the chicken. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and place it on a cutting board. Shred it with two forks or chop it up with a knife. Set aside.
- Blend the tomatoes. Carefully scoop about 1 cup of chicken broth into the blender. Add the tomatoes, remaining 2 garlic cloves, and chipotle chiles. Process until you get a very smooth mixture. Add this to the soup pot.
- Add the chicken, potatoes and carrots. Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat. Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the potatoes and carrots. Stir and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Use a spoon to skim off any foamy bits of blended tomato broth.
- Adjust seasonings, add zucchini and chickpeas. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. I usually add about 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt but if there is a lot of broth still you may need 2 teaspoons. Add the zucchini and chickpeas. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add cilantro and give a final taste. Add the cilantro to the pot, cook for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust as needed.
- Serve. Ladle hot soup into the bowls. Top with diced avocado and a swirl of Mexican crema. Enjoy!