The Filipino Cure to the Common Cold: Arroz Caldo

This recipe holds a special place in my heart, mostly because it’s usually what my mom made when my brother and I had the sniffles. Think of Arroz Caldo as the Filipino version of chicken noodle soup. This is true Filipino comfort food.

So when the weather started getting chilly, Jeff and I caught a cold (the very same illness I mentioned a couple weeks back). My mom happened to call and she said I should make Arroz Caldo. I had never made it before but she gave me a vague ingredient list and set of instructions. We had most of the ingredients on hand so I decided that it wouldn’t be too much effort to make and it would definitely help me feel better. I mean, Arroz Caldo always made me feel better when I was kid.

While I say Arroz Caldo is the Filipino version of chicken noodle soup, it technically isn’t a soup. When I presented Jeff a bowl of Arroz Caldo for the first time he said, “That’s not soup, it’s thick as hell.” So yeah, it’s pretty thick, sort of like rice pudding. If you want a soupier consistency, add more chicken stock or use a little less rice. Also, if you don’t have fish sauce, just use a little more soy sauce. So next time you or your loved ones have the sniffles, make Arroz Caldo. It’s a really flexible recipe, so adjust the amount of ingredients to your taste!

Arroz Caldo

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups short grain rice
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used a combination of boneless skinless breasts and thighs cut into bite-sized chunks, or you can use bone-in chicken pieces)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger, finely minced or grated (can use powdered ginger)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Cook the rice according to package directions or using a rice cooker. Wait until the rice is done to start the rest of the soup. Alternatively, you could use leftover rice which is what my mom usually did when I was growing up.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is rippling, add the chicken and brown on all sides. You may have to do this in batches. When all the chicken in browned, removed from the pot and reserve on a plate. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and ginger (if using fresh) to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so. Add about a cup of the chicken stock to the pan to scrape up all the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the cooked rice to the pot and the remaining chicken stock and stir to combine. Season with soy sauce, ginger (if using powder), salt, and pepper, to taste. Stir in the reserved chicken and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Note: Arroz caldo gets really thick after you refrigerate it, so when you reheat it add a little chicken stock or water to help loosen it up.

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