Add some old-world tradition to your winter recipes this year when you indulge in Spanish culture with a batch of Caldo Tlalpeño soup. This famous Mexican soup is found on restaurant menus across the country, and its ingredients vary as much as the places in which it is served. Although there are many variations to this soup, the spicy chipotle chilies are a main part of the broth, adding a distinct flavor and aroma.
There are many stories about the origins of this soup, but no one seems to dispute that this old and traditional recipe for Caldo Tlalpeño originates from an area just south of Mexico City called Tlalpen. The original Aztec language there is also old and traditional.
The Uto-Aztecan language is called Nahuatl, which is where the word tlalli comes from, which stems the Tlalpan word meaning on the land. Once you begin making this hearty soup you will quickly realize how many land herbs and vegetables are required, which just may be the reason for its name.
8 cups of chicken stock
1 finely diced white onion
2 cups of green beans
1.5 cups garbanzo beans (soaked over night or use canned)
1 cup of chicken meat (optional)
3-5 chipotle chilies (more or less to suit taste)
3 carrots sliced
2 finely diced cloves of garlic
1 sprig of epazote or 1 tbsp. of dried epazote
1 cup of cheese cubed (mozzarella works best)
1 cup of cooked rice
In a large pot, add chicken stock, soaked beans, chicken meat (if using), diced onion and garlic. Cook until the garbanzo beans are soft, about 30 minutes.
You can now add epazote, chipotle chilies, cheese, carrots, and green beans. Boil on low until the vegetables are cooked, about 20 minutes.
In your serving bowls place a few tablespoons of cooked rice. Ladle the soup into the bowl over the rice then squeeze 1 or 2 small limes into the soup. Top with additional diced onion and avocado slices. You can also sprinkle with shredded cheese if desired.
The true foundation for this soup is in the proper preparation of the stock. So, regardless of what you decide to add, stick with the chipotle chilies and get creative with your winter recipes by adding your own Spanish vegetables such as chayote squash.
Epazote is a commonly used herb in winter recipes, especially in Spanish cooking. It can be purchased dried or grown in your own herb garden. You will find that the Spanish heritage is filled with numerous recipes that include rice, vegetables, and beans, to create other winter recipes. This particular soup just happens to combine them all!