Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Caldo Ranchero (Homestyle Mexican Soup)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5-6 people
A tasty, meat-and-potatoes Mexican soup with added beans for a hearty meal that will warm you during the winter months!

This delicious recipe for caldo ranchero was adapted from one of my favorite Mexican chefs, Sonia Ortiz. It's a complete coincidence that her first name also happens to be Sonia, and if I a not mistaken, she is from Monterrey, N.L, Mexico.

My family is also from Monterrey, which is known for it's hearty meat and potato-style dishes. My twist on this recipe is that I am using flank steak, one of my favorite cuts of beef. The original recipe uses a thin steak and cooks quickly, but it can be dry as a result. I prefer to use a cut of beef that includes a little more marbling for richer flavor. This recipe can easily be adapted to your slow cooker. Prepare as instructed, adding all of your ingredients to the slow cooker. Add the potatoes, beans and cilantro during the last 2 hours of cooking time. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.


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  1. Line a skillet, griddle or comal with foil paper and heat to medium. Place the tomatoes, serrano chile, poblano pepper, onion and garlic onto the hot surface. This dry roast method of cooking takes about 20 minutes or more. Remove the garlic after 15 minutes and turn the other ingredients halfway through cooking time.
  2. Slice the beef into thin, bite size pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a pot or deep skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring as needed, until nicely seared brown.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. The original soup is not made with a lot of broth, but you can add to taste.
  4. Remove the blistered skins from the poblanos and skins from the garlic. Add all the dry-roasted ingredients to the blender. Pulse to blend until you have a chunky looking salsa. Pour into the soup mixture.
  5. Once the soup comes to a boil again, reduce and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the cilantro and beans and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas, avocado slices and lime wedges.

Chef Notes

To get a more uniform and thinly sliced flank steak, freeze it 1 1/2 hours before slicing. Chuck steak is also a good cut of beef for this recipe.

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