This Caldo de Gallina Criolla o Pollo (Old Hen / Chicken Soup) is the traditional soup given to women who've just given birth or people recovering from illness.
Dominican sopa de pollo, or caldo de gallina is far more than just a dish. It is half nourishment, half ancestral medicine. A dish steeped in our oldest traditions and popular beliefs.
Caldo de gallina vieja criolla
Before we got our chicken neatly packed from the supermarket, most Dominicans lived in rural areas grew and raised their food–at least partially. Keeping "creole" chickens was not just relegated to the campos. In my paternal home, we kept chickens in the backyard growing up, and fresh eggs was part of our regular diet.
Good hens, once they left behind their peak egg-laying days, were destined for the pot, but saved for the times when convalescent family or relatives, or recién paridas (women who had just given birth) were in need of a wholesome, restorative caldo de gallina criolla vieja.
The soup is hen soup, never chicken, because they are "very cold", without "auyama", because everything that comes from vines can "lock" the child.  (Translation mine)
About this recipe
Where we can find an old "creole" hen in these urban environs nowadays, I do not know, so use chicken if you can't get hold of an old hen.
And I have added auyama, as I have no newborns I fear may be "locked" (whatever that is). Auyama gives this soup the nicest color and creamiest consistency.
Caldo de Gallina Criolla o Pollo Recipe (Old Hen / Chicken Soup)
- 2 lb [0.91 kg] of hen meat, (or chicken)
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1½ teaspoon of salt, (or more, to taste)
- 2 tablespoon of oil
- 1 quart [1 lt] of water
- 2 cloves of garlic, , sliced
- 1 quart chicken broth, [1 lt]
- 1 cup of potatoes cut into small cubes
- 1 celery stalk, , sliced
- 1 cup of auyama, (West Indian pumpkin) cut into small cubes
- ½ cup of angel hair noodles
- 1 sprig of parsley, , chopped
- Season chicken: Remove skin, bone, and chop the chicken into spoon-sized pieces. Discard the excess fat and skin. We'll use the bones for extra flavor. Season the chicken with oregano and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Cook meat: Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, add the chicken and brown. Pour in water and garlic and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until chicken or hen is very tender, add water when it becomes necessary to maintain the same level of liquid. Stir in the potatoes, celery and auyama.
- Cook noodles: Five minutes later add the noodles and parsley and cook until noodles are cooked through. Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking.
- Serve: Once everything is cooked through, remove the bones from the soup and discard. Taste and season with salt to taste.
Notes and Tips
- Jimenez, Ramón Emilio (1927) Al Amor del Bohío: Tradiciones y Costumbres Dominicanas. (Tomo 1. Pag. 21) Santo Domingo: V. Montalvo, Ed.