The weather is starting to cool down, so it’s time to share one of the many soups in my repertoire.
Caldo Xóchitl is a simple chicken soup from Mexico, a carryover of traditional, pre-Columbian fare, when soup (and corn) were dietary staples in the region. The word Xóchitl itself means “flower” in the Nahuatl (Aztec) language, but the original meaning behind this name is lost to history. I’ve read that this soup may have originally coincided with the daysign Xóchitl in the Aztec and Maya calendars; think of it like the astrological or Chinese zodiac signs, based off a specific day of the year that is governed by the goddess Xochiquetzal. Another, perhaps more practical theory is that squash blossoms may have simply been added to the soup when in season.
While chicken is more commonly served in this soup today, chickens were likely first introduced after Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492 (there is some evidence that there were chickens in South America, via Polynesia, but that debate rages on). Either way, turkeys were available, so if you’re up for it, use turkey meat instead. We’re going to season the soup broth with a few New World spices, to give just a hint of depth to the recipe.
Caldo Xóchitl – Simple Chicken Soup (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)
1 small whole chicken (~3 lbs), broken down, or 2 lbs bone-in chicken or turkey breasts, thighs, or mixture
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
6 whole black peppercorns
3 whole fennel or anise seeds
1 whole clove
8 whole coriander seeds
1 lime, divided
1 bunch cilantro or 1/2 bunch culantro, torn or chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped (3/4 cup chopped), soaked in cool water for 10 mins and drained
2 just ripe avocados, sliced
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, sliced
squash blossoms, torn (if in season)
1. Add the chicken to a stockpot and fill with enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam from the surface of the water. Stir in the garlic, salt, peppercorns, fennel, clove, and coriander. Simmer until the chicken meat can be easily torn with a fork, about 25 minutes for boneless breasts or thighs, 45 minutes for bone-in meat.
2. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the chicken meat and set aside to cool, covered with a towel to keep from drying out, about 10 minutes. Pick the meat from the bones; using two forks, gently shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and distribute to 4 soup bowls.
3. Strain the soup broth through a fine sieve or colander, discarding the solids, then add the juice of ½ of the lime (about 1 tbsp); slice the other half of the lime into thin slices to serve with the soup. Season the soup with salt to taste, then ladle the broth into each soup bowl and serve with lime slices, cilantro, onion, avocado, and jalapeños.
*** This soup is easily doubled for larger crowds, or leftovers.
Note: In the year leading up to my new cookbook’s release, I will be regularly releasing these recipes to 1) maintain a continuing conversation with my readership and 2) give visitors to this site an opportunity to test and provide feedback before editing. For more information on this new approach, read my post here.
If you haven’t seen it already, don’t forget to grab my current deal with ButcherBox – two 10oz ribeyes (a $25 value) + $10 off new orders – which expires midnight Tuesday, October 3rd (that’s tonight!). See you next week!