By Jessica Domel
This time of year as the weather turns colder (well, in Texas, just the days it decides to feel like winter), one of my favorite comfort foods is a good, warm soup or stew. Late last week, I was feeling a bit under the weather and decided to make Caldo de Res, or beef soup, that I used to order all the time when I lived in Seguin.
One of the great things about Caldo de Res and Caldo de Pollo (chicken soup) is that it is versatile. Everyone makes it a little bit differently, but here’s how I make mine. I hope you enjoy it.
For Caldo De Res, you will need…
10 cups of water
4 cloves minced garlic
2 lbs. bone-in chuck, cubed
2 cubes beef bouillon
1 medium white onion
1/2 head cabbage
1/2 tsp. fresh, ground cumin
2 ears sweet, yellow corn
corn tortillas (optional)
sliced jalapeños (optional)
lemon or lime slices (optional)
At the recommendation of a good family friend who is an excellent cook, I make the beef broth for the caldo first. Combine 10 cups of water in a stock pot with four cloves minced garlic or minced garlic from a jar.
Lightly sear two pounds of bone-in chuck, cut into small cubes. Then put it in the pot to simmer. I’ve tried using the “beef soup bone with meat,” and it adds great flavor, but it doesn’t provide a lot of meat for the soup.
After adding the meat, pull off the outer layers of a medium-sized white onion, cut the top and bottom off and place it into the pot, as well.
This next step is what adds flavor to the beef base. Add 1/4 teaspoon fresh, ground cumin and two cubes of beef bouillon. You also can add fresh cilantro at this point, but I usually wait.
Let this combination simmer for about three-and-a-half hours. I find it’s a great time to prepare other make-ahead meals or clean the house.
After about three-and-a-half hours, remove all of the meat and vegetables from the pot and put them in a bowl. Then, skim the fat off the top and run the broth through a strainer to get any small bone pieces out of the mixture.
I usually taste the broth at this point to see if it rich enough for me. Sometimes I end up adding a little cilantro and extra beef broth. Sometimes I just let it stand as is.
Next, pull the meat off the bones. This isn’t a step everyone takes. I’ve been a few places where they leave the bones in the soup. I usually take them out because I don’t like picking meat off bones while I’m eating soup.
Add the meat cubes, six carrots that have been peeled and quartered, and half a head of cabbage with the core removed to the broth.
For flavoring, I usually add another 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin at this point.
For those of you who don’t like onion, you may want to go ahead and put the onion back in the pot whole or toss it out. I cut the onion up into quarters (so they’re large enough for onion haters to pick out) and place it back into the soup. It adds a nice flavoring to the mixture.
Then, add two ears of corn cut in half into the pot and put the lid back on.
If you’re looking to add more vegetables to the mixture, you can always toss in pieces of zucchini, potatoes or chayote squash. I’ve seen a combination of all those in different recipes for caldo. Some people also add tomatoes, but because I serve up hot sauce on the side, I usually don’t add them.
Let the caldo simmer for at least another hour or until the carrots are tender.
Then, I serve it up with white rice that I’ve cooked in chicken broth with a touch of extra virgin olive oil.
Some people cut up limes or lemons and serve them on the side, but I prefer the flavoring of jalapeños, so I toss a few slices in and serve with corn tortillas.
The best part is, you can add what you want and take out what you don’t. Mix, match and enjoy!
Recipe: Caldo De Res
Summary: A versatile cold weather favorite.
- 10 cups of water
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 pounds bone-in chuck, cubed
- 2 cubes of beef bouillon
- 1 medium white onion
- 1/2 head cabbage
- 1/2 tsp. fresh, ground cumin
- fresh cilantro
- 6 carrots
- 2 ears of sweet, yellow corn
- zucchini (optional)
- salsa (optional)
- corn tortillas (optional)
- sliced jalapeños (optional)
- lemon or lime slices (optional)
- Combine 10 cups of water in a stock pot with four cloves of minced garlic.
- Lightly sear two pounds of bone-in chuck and cut into small cubes.
- Cut top and bottom off medium-sized white onion and peel outside layers.
- Place onion and meat into stock pot with water, garlic, two cubes beef bouillon and 1/4 tsp. ground cumin.
- Let the base simmer for 3-1/2 hours.
- Remove vegetables, skim fat and run broth through a strainer.
- Add cilantro for taste, if needed.
- Pull the meat off the bones and place the meat and onion back into the base with 1/4 tsp. ground cumin.
- Shuck two ears of corn, cut in half and place into soup.
- Peel six carrots, cut them into sections and place into soup.
- Peel the outer layers off a head of cabbage, slice in half and add one half to the soup.
- Let simmer for one hour or until carrots are tender.
- Serve with rice, lemons or limes, tortillas and salsa.
Prep time (duration): 30 minutes
Cook time: 4-5 hours