“What do you say, before we do anything else, you go get stuff to make a caldito de queso? That way everything is ready for tomorrow,” my mom said one Saturday morning.
As long as I can remember, it’s been a tradition in my family to make caldo (broth) when the family gets together, or after a fiesta, usually on Sunday. It’s one of the few dishes we enjoy together as a family, and it’s very Sonoran.
The family ritual dictates we all sit together while the caldo is being prepared, so we can chat and laugh until mom says, “It’s ready!” Then we all gather round with our plate, broth steaming and cheese melting. Nevertheless, the best part is heating up leftovers, which is why my mother always uses the largest pot she has.
This recipe is so entrenched in our DNA, my mother doesn’t even have it written down in her aging notebook full of recipes. When I called her, because I had the urge to prepare caldo, she recited it from memory without hesitation, “It’s the easiest thing in the world.”
My grandmother makes it, my mother makes it, and just recently I’ve begun to make it myself, after inviting a friend over to eat. It is like an angel tumbling from the clouds into a half tortured stomach.
This is our home recipe. Of course there may be different methods of preparation, and each family has its “secret recipe.” The idea is as you continue to prepare and test it, you’ll add or take away elements to your own liking…well, except the cheese of course because without cheese it would no longer be “caldo de queso.”
Caldo de Queso
1 small box of tomato purée
3 chile poblanos
Salt or chicken broth to taste (or Consomate)
½ liter of water
½ liter of milk
3 cups of cubed asadero, chihuahua, or manchego cheese
(*This is the quick way, because you can make your own tomato purée, in which case you’ll need two or three tomatoes, 1 small onion and one or two garlic cloves – depending on taste)
Grill the chiles, peel off the skin, wash and cut into strips. Boil the potatoes until just before they’re soft (there are those who prefer to cube and fry potatoes – your call).
Boil tomato purée, cups of water, salt or chicken broth to taste. Once it reaches a boil, lower to a simmer and add milk.
Add chile first and then the potatoes. Let simmer for about 10 minutes at low heat.
Cut cheese into regular cubes and add 2 cups to the broth at the end. Remove from heat, cover and let sit until cheese begins to melt.
Before serving, place remaining cheese cubes in bottom of bowls and pour broth into bowls.
*If you make your own purée, fry the onion, garlic, and tomatoes in cooking oil; add water and salt. Blend and add milk. Boil and then add chile strips, and potatoes until soft. Add cheese, remove from heat, and cover.
Personally, I love this and would eat it every day if I could. Obviously, this is psychological but it makes me feel calm and relaxed. It’s great for a lazy day in front of the TV – after many days of fiesta, for example.