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Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth (Caldo de Pollo Rojo)

Bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile broth, with shreds of chicken, cilantro leaves, jalapeno slices, and diced onion on top
Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth (Caldo De Pollo Rojo)

One of the eye opening meals I had in Mexico was Caldo Rojo – a bowl of red, spicy soup, served with a platter of shredded vegetables, lime wedges, and hot sauce on the side. The broth was fantastic – more spicy than hot, with a complex mix of flavors.

Without thinking, I dumped a big handful of the shredded cabbage, cilantro, peppers, and radishes into my soup. One of my tour mates was worried. Would the raw vegetables get me? Luckily, I avoided Montezuma’s revenge, and I’m glad I added the vegetables – they add a wonderful crunch to the soup.

I came home determined to make that red broth myself.

This soup will take some dedicated shop-searching. Dried ancho chile peppers are available at most grocery stores, but you may have to go to your local Mexican market to find the guajillo and chipotle chiles. (If you can’t find them, substitute more ancho peppers for the guajillo, and one canned chipotle en adobo for the dried chipotle.) And don’t forget the toppings; the broth is a foundation for each diner to build their soup on, using whatever toppings they prefer. Me? Give me all the toppings. The more, the merrier.

No pressure cooker? No worries. See the notes section for stovetop instructions.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth (Caldo de Pollo Rojo)

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Bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile broth, with shreds of chicken, cilantro leaves, jalapeno slices, and diced onion on top

Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth (Caldo de Pollo Rojo)

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 quarts 1x


Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth. Caldo De Pollo Rojo, sped up dramatically thanks to pressure cooking.



Chile paste

  • 4 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (or substitute ancho chiles)
  • 3 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 dried chipotle, stemmed and seeded (or substitute one chipotle en adobo
  • warm water
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 of a small stick of cinnamon (about 3 inches long)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

Mexican Chicken Soup

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 (4 pound) chicken, cut into pieces (legs, wings, and breast)
    • OR 3 pounds of chicken legs
    • OR 3 pounds chicken backs, necks, or carcasses
  • Chile paste (from above)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Minced onion
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges


  1. Stem, seed, toast, and soak the dried chile peppers: With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut off the stem end of the pepper, then cut down one side. Open the pepper up and brush out the seeds) Toast the peppers in batches in a dry skillet over medium heat (not nonstick – I used cast iron). Open up the peppers and press down with a spatula to get good contact with the pan, about 30 seconds per pepper. (Skip toasting the chipotles – they’re already smoked.) Put the toasted chiles in a small bowl, cover with warm water, and soak the chiles for 30 minutes. 
  2. Toast the spices and garlic: While the chiles are soaking, toast the spices in the same skillet until they smell fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour the spices directly into a blender. Pulse the blender a few times to break up the cinnamon, then wait for the chiles to finish soaking. 
  3. Make the chile paste: When the chiles are soaked, add them to the blender, along with 1 cup of the soaking water, and blend until completely smooth. (Add more water if needed to keep the blades moving; my Vitamix powered through this without any effort.)
  4. Everything in the pot: Pour 8 cups of water into the pressure cooker pot. Add the soup ingredients: the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and cut-up chicken. Stir in the chile paste and 2 teaspoons of salt, then float the bay leaf on top.
  5. Pressure cook for 30 minutes with a Natural Pressure Release: Pressure cook on high pressure for 30 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (“Pressure Cook” or “Manual” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 24 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure come down naturally, at least 30 minutes. (It takes a long time for all that water to cool off. If you’re in a hurry, let the pressure come down naturally for 20 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.)
  6. Strain the broth and shred the chicken: With tongs and a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board and let them cool. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard the rest of the solids; they gave their all to the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it, discarding the skin, bones, and gristle.
  7. Serve the soup: To serve, put a handful of shredded chicken in a soup bowl, cover with broth, and customize the bowl of soup with your favorite toppings. (I like the crunch of shredded cabbage, the bite of some diced onion, and the texture of avocado slices in mine.)


  • Stovetop instructions: No pressure cooker? No worries. Use a dutch oven with a lid; in step 2, instead of pressure cooking the soup, bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot with the lid, and simmer for an hour. Put the lid on completely, turn the heat off, and let the broth cool for 20 minutes, remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, bring the broth back to a simmer, and continue with the straining and tasting steps.


  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth, Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth

Bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile broth, with shreds of chicken, cilantro leaves, jalapeno slices, and diced onion on top
Pressure Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup in Red Chile Broth (Caldo De Pollo Rojo)
Removing seeds
Toasting chiles
Chile Paste into Instant Pot

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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Filed under: Pressure cooker


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Annette says

    I’m a timid cook and expert at destroying the kitchen. Since we only had chicken thighs on hand, I used about 4 lbs of chicken thighs and it turned out wonderful. Thank you for creating an easy to follow recipe that was even more delicious.

  2. Jonathan M says

    Delicious and efficient! I make a similar soup, but this is truly refined and restaurant quality. Thanks Pops! Cheers

  3. Mike in Austin says

    This looks great! I’m going to try it this weekend. I’m lucky enough to have a Mexican grocery just a few blocks from our house with a great selection of dried peppers available!

    • Mike in Austin says


      I made this a couple of nights ago and am finishing the leftovers today. This recipe knocks it out of the ballpark! Spicy without being over the top. Complex. My family loved it! I always use dried chilies when making Texas Chili, but this was the first time that I toasted them first. Amazing! I ended up using boneless skinless thigh meat, which reduced the work. This recipe is going into regular rotation!


      Mike in Austin

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