Caldo de Pollo

Barely covering the chicken legs with water, along with a few aromatics, quickly produces a flavorful and rich chicken stock that’s lightly spiced with jalapeños and sweet tomatoes. If you want a spicier broth, as this version is pretty mild, use a paring knife to cut small incisions in each chile before adding them to the soup.
Read John Paul Brammer's essay The Healing Magic of Caldo de Pollo.

Caldo de Pollo Recipe
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins


  • 4 (10-ounce) chicken leg quarters

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/2 pound yellow or red baby new potatoes (about 5 potatoes), quartered

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

  • 1 cup uncooked pearled barley

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (such as Ro-Tel)

  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed


  1. Combine chicken leg quarters, 5 cups water, cumin, garlic, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; cover and gently simmer 25 minutes.

  2. Stir in carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, barley, stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and green chiles, and jalapeños. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and barley are tender and chicken is falling off the bone, about 40 minutes. Remove chicken meat from bones; discard bones. Stir chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into soup. Add salt to taste.

Make Ahead

Prepare the soup, omitting the barley. Prepared soup can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days. Stir in cooked barley when ready to serve.

Related Articles