Caldo De Res: Mexican Beef and Vegetable Soup

I love how food, like yarn, can sew together generations.

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My mom and me, circa 1983

I never met my mother’s mother, Maria (she died before I was born), but I think of her often.

I think of her at times, like last week, when after a long day all I wanted was a mug of tea and hot bath, and just as the bath water was warming up, I knocked my tea onto the concrete floor. With glass everywhere, to pray for patience — as my grandmother would have — was all that I could muster: “Dame paciencia Señor.”

And I think of her at times, like this week, when I made caldo de res, a traditional Mexican beef soup, that my grandmother made for my mom and my mom made for us.

Caldo de Res

The key to caldo de res, I think, is the timing. Here’s why: If you throw in all the vegetables at once, by the time the corn and carrots are cooked, the squash and potatoes will be slop.

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So the key is to add the vegetables in the proper order (corn, carrots, celery, onion/tomato/cilantro, cabbage, potato, squash) with about fifteen minutes between each one.

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Fifteen minutes between each one?

You mean it takes more than two hours to make this soup?!

Yes.

Dame paciencia Señor.

Caldo de Res

Caldo de Res: Traditional Mexican Beef Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs (about 4 ribs)

1 cob corn, peeled and cut into quarters

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks

2 ribs celery, sliced into chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 yellow onion, sliced thin

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for serving

1/2 green cabbage, sliced into two or three wedges

2 white potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into chunks

2 summer squash, sliced into chunks

Salt, to taste

Fresh cilantro, for serving

Lemon or lime wedges, for serving

Sliced fresh jalapeños, for serving

Corn tortillas, for serving

Instructions: 

Fill a large pot with water, about 2/3 full.

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Add the short ribs.

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Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium so the water continues to bubble but is not at a rolling boil.

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As foam rises to the top, skim it off with a spoon and discard.

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After skimming the foam, set the lid ajar, and cook the short ribs for about 50 minutes.

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Then add the corn, set the lid ajar, and cook for about 15 minutes.

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Then add the celery, set the lid ajar, and cook for about 15 minutes. While the celery is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onions; cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Add the tomatoes; cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Add the cilantro and stir.

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Pour the onion-tomato-cilantro mixture into the pot of soup. Season the soup with about 1/2 tablespoon salt (you can add more later).

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Around this time, you will probably need to add more water, as much of the original water will have evaporated by now. Just dump it right in — about 2-3 cups should bring you back up to the original water line.

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Then add the carrots, set the lid ajar, and cook for about 15 minutes.

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Then add the cabbage, set the lid ajar, and cook for about 15 minutes.

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Then add the potatoes, set the lid ajar, and cook for … you guessed it … about 15 minutes.

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Finally, add the squash, and cook for 10 more minutes. Test the veggies; cook for 5-10 more minutes if needed.

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Taste; add more salt if needed.  Remove pot from heat.

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Serve soup warm, with cilantro, lime or lemon wedges, sliced jalapeños, and corn tortillas.

Caldo de Res

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29 Responses to Caldo De Res: Mexican Beef and Vegetable Soup

  1. Alan Christensen December 17, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    i would suggest that you get more flavor if you start with the ribs without water (but a little oil) and brown them first. Then cover with water and boil.

    • Nessa Lutack January 28, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      I agree!

    • JoeBeezie February 9, 2014 at 12:15 am #

      When you boil the ribs first you are creating a broth…
      however, I agree you lose flavor going this route…

      I’ve been researching this dish as my girl is craving her grandmothers dish but I’ve never made it before.

      I’m making it tomorrow, following this as a base recipe with the following exceptions.
      1. I have my own beef broth made from bones over time.
      2. I will be using tri-tip I am going to cube, season, flour and brown.
      3. I feel adding cumin will add more earthiness which will compliment the veggies.

      I’ll let you know how it comes out….

      Tip: save the rib bones. Bake them then crack and boil with celery, carrots and onions salt / pepper to taste. Reduce and add water several times (kind of like french onion soup) finally strain. I like to freeze in Ice cube trays and add to sauces, veggies and other preparations as needed…

      • Marie Saba
        Marie Saba March 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

        Oh wow — I bet your broth was delicious! I will be saving rib bones in the future — thanks for the suggestion! Best, Marie

  2. Nina (@CheesepuffNina) January 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    You are beautiful and a genius. Thanks for making a traditional, some what complicated soup very easy to make.

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba March 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Hi Nina! Well that is the nicest comment ever :) Thank you for taking time to leave a note. I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the soup. Best, Marie

  3. LaLa January 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    I dislike all canned soups and will only eat homemade recipes so today I tried yours and am happy to report that it permanently replaces another recipe I was using. I love that the flavors are so bold that I’m able to limit how much salt I add to the soup as I like to watch my sodium intake. As with most made-from-scratch recipes, it did require several hours in the kitchen, but it is absolutely worth it and I have leftovers!! Thank you for sharing your recipe!!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba March 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Hi! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for the note! Best, Marie

  4. Alan Christensen February 23, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    I made caramelized onions for a french onion soup (separate dinner). I had some extra and put about 1/2 cup into the pot of caldo when I reheated it. It added a lot of flavor. It doesn’t change the essential character of the broth, but intensified it.

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba February 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      Oh wow! Love this Alan! Thanks for the idea!

  5. John Lyles Jr. March 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    Great recipe! Made it this weekend for the one big storm we get here southern Cali! It was awesome! Gonna try it again once it’s New Mexico green chile season and incorporate them into the onion tomato mixture. Keep up the good work!

  6. Deborah Leos March 4, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Hi Marie, I’ve been married for 40 years n never made caldo always found it was too complicated. Thank you so much yours was so easy to follow. By the way this it was so delicious that I’m making again.

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba March 19, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Hello Deborah! How wonderful! I’m so glad it was easy and delicious :) Very best, Marie

  7. tonia March 19, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    I’ve been looking for this recipe a long time gonna make it Sunday.. can’t wait. Thanks so much!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba March 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Tonia! Wonderful! Hope it turned out well. Best, Marie

  8. Joey Guerrero March 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Got hurt at work, at home and love to cook. Wife favorite meal is Caldo, thx for the step by step, wife loved it the 1st time making it again.I know it’s good when my mother in-law gave me the thumbs up…

  9. Hilda Perez April 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    I also like it when my mom adds chayote!! Its my fave. This will be my first attempt at making it!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba July 30, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      Hi Hilda! Yes, yes chayote if you have it around! I would love to hear how the caldo turned out! What were some other of your favorite dishes of your mom’s? I would love to hear. Best, Marie

      • Hilda July 30, 2014 at 10:34 am #

        It came out great and the hubby loved it too!! :) another one of my favorites is her chilallo (sp check) and her own spin on chiles reyenos, she doesn’t batter them in egg or fry them. And makes a delicious chipotle sauce I have yet to conquer & stuffs them with cheese instead of meat :)

        • Marie Saba
          Marie Saba July 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

          Oh Hilda! That sounds amazing! You are lucky to have had such a good teacher :) Hugs!

  10. jimwellborn2014 August 3, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    This is a great recipe! It takes a little time, but with the vigorous cooking going on, the process is exciting and moves along at a nice pace. Plus, your recommendations for the proper order are spot on. Fresh, hot soup with tender and flavorful meat, vegetables and a wonderful broth have combined to create the best soup I’ve had in years. I am amazed that salt is the only spice and it was plenty! Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba August 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Oh my goodness what a wonderful note! Thank you Jim! Completely made my day :) I am so glad you enjoyed the soup and thank you for taking time to leave a comment. Stay in touch, won’t ya? Very best, Marie

      • jimwellborn2014 September 5, 2014 at 9:22 am #

        I was completely shocked that you wrote back and it took a whole month to regain my composure! Thank you. I just checked out your recipe for things to do with perfect beans and my enthusiasm continues. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Warm regards, Jim

  11. weena September 8, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    I have searched so many recapee for caldo only you give the correct advice on how to add the veggies thank you so much this is one meal I can make like his mother . god bless you and thanks again .

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba September 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

      Hello! Thanks so much for your comment! I am so glad that this recipe is what you are looking for! It is so delicious — he will think his mother made it :) Very best, Marie

  12. Mariella September 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    I just made this, it was my very first time making a caldo de res. It came out delicious. Thank you for pointing out the fact that the vegetables have to go in in increments. I think I would of had mush if I had not read this. Great recipe!

  13. rosarii September 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    It came out delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

  14. Jim Wellborn October 10, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Last night I made this recipe again, and it was even better. Somehow, the steps you provide seem to illustrate a recipe for patience that is just as satisfying as the delicious soup. I really appreciate what you have done. Thank you!

  15. Debbie Padilla October 16, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Hi Marie, thank you so much for simplifying this recipe. I’m from California where there is good Mexican food everywhere. Well let’s just say that isn’t the case here in Tennessee unless I make it myself. So I love it when I find an authentic recipe such as yours that is user friendly. God Bless you and keep those good recipes coming.

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