Cooking With Cilantro: Caldo de Pollo

(Chicken Broth)

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Makes about 8 cups

Stock up a basic Mexican chicken broth. Sopa De Dilantro depends on a rich, flavorful chicken stock. Here’s a delicious broth that can be the starting point for many Mexican soups. The addition of top-quality chicken bouillon, either frozen or in dried cubes, may be cheating, but it intensifies the flavor. After you’ve made this stock, use the tender morsels of cooked chicken in tortilla dishes such as Pollo Encilantrado.

This broth may also be served simply with a squeeze of lime and a sprig of cilantro.

• 1 whole chicken
• 1 large onion, quartered
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled
• 2 carrots, quartered
• 2 zucchinis, quartered
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
• Water or half chicken broth and half water
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• Commercial chicken bouillon to taste (optional)
• Salt to taste
• Handful of cilantro

1. Place the chicken in a large stockpot with the onion, garlic, carrots, zucchinis, bay, coriander seeds, and peppercorns. Cover with water and optional broth and slowly bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that accumulates; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the oregano, optional bouillon, and salt, and continue to cook for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.

2. Remove the chicken to a plate. When cool, pull the meat from the bones, reserving it for another use, and discard the fat and small bones. Return the larger bones to the pot. Simmer another 40 minutes, adding more water or broth as needed to make 8 cups; add the cilantro toward the end of the cooking time. Cool, then strain the stock, pressing the solids. Chill overnight; skim off the congealed fat.

Lucinda Hutson is the author of The Herb Garden Cookbook, 2nd edition (Gulf, 1998) and Tequila: Cooking with the Spirit of Mexico (Ten Speed Press, 1996). She lives and gardens in Austin, Texas.

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