Dancing in the Kitchen with Garlic: Caldo Con Ajo

Delicious, unique recipes offer the flavor and health benefits of Allium sativum.

Caldo Con Ajo (Garlic Soup)
Serves 4 to 6

I ordered this soup on a trip to Mexico and fell in love with it. Although I didn’t get the recipe, I came up with an approximation of it on my own. This is one of those soups that changes every time I prepare it, according to what ingredients I have in the house and whether my daughter, who is a vegetarian, is visiting. It’s also one of those soups that seems to grow and grow, so it’s great to serve for company. The chicken is optional. If you have any soup left over, you’ll be happy to discover it’s even better after the flavors have had time to introduce themselves and share a bit of their personal history for a day or two.

  • Olive or other vegetable oil, enough to cover bottom of a large saucepan
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 or more fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed (or any other chicken on hand)
  • 1 head garlic, minced (less if you’re not a huge garlic fan)
  • Chile powder or red chile flakes, to taste
  • Oregano and cumin, to taste (or cilantro)
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 2 cups cooked beans (black, kidney or garbanzo)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes, chopped (I like the ones with jalapeño)
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • 2 ripe avocados, cubed
  • Tortilla chips
  • Lime wedges
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and mushrooms in hot oil. Brown chicken. Add garlic and spices. Pour in broth; add carrots, beans and tomatoes. When ingredients are hot and meat is thoroughly cooked, squeeze in juice of one lime (I like it really limey, so I double this). Add avocados; stir for a moment.
  2. Pour over tortilla chips; before serving, squeeze a lime wedge or two over each bowl. I serve with warm corn tortillas with butter.

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