mexican minestrone

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

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mexican minestrone

I saw an old friend for lunch last week who was fighting off a cold. Fortunately, we were at Nopalito in San Francisco where we could order Caldo Tlalpeño, a chicken soup with vegetables, queso fresco, and chipotle. She slurped it to get healthy and I slurped it to stay healthy. In short, it was Mexican penicillin. It reminded me of my recipe for tortilla soup where I sub in cooked rice and gabanzos for the fried tortillas. I call it Mexican Minestrone, which is easier for me to pronounce than “Caldo Tlalpeño!”


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
1 canned chipotle in adobo*, chopped (or 2 teaspoons smoked pimenton “picante”)
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (from a purchased cooked chicken)
kosher salt
1 cup raw white rice
1 large avocado, diced
1 lime, cut into wedges

* don’t misread this as “1 whole can” chipotle in adobo…you only want to use one of these fiery little beasts from the can; fish it out with a fork with some of the sauce clinging to it. Freeze the remaining stuff in the can in a small plastic bag then slice off what you need in the future to thaw and use.


In a soup pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium-high heat and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chopped cilantro, and chipotle and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broth, water, and garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in chicken at the end to heat it through. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, bring 2 cups water to boil with a pinch of salt, stir in the rice, then cover and simmer until cooked, 18 to 20 minutes.

To serve, divide cooked rice among soup bowls. Ladle soup over rice and garnish with avocado and cilantro leaves; add a lime wedge to each bowl to squeeze over the soup.