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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)

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • 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.


6-quart or larger pressure cooker (I use an Instant Pot electric PC)


Fine Mesh Strainer

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican