Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreña

Carlos has been sick for a week, and on Friday he was so sick that he even took off work. I’ve been doing every home remedy I know of to make him better – Vicks Vaporub on the feet before bed, honey lemon tea, vaporizers, vitamin C, and just plain old bed rest, but nothing seemed to help very much. (I did all these remedios caseros on myself too for prevention and so far, so good.)

On Saturday Carlos asked me to make him Sopa de Pollo, but he didn’t want the Bolivian Chicken Soup recipe I always use. He asked if I’d try to make Salvadoran Chicken Soup “with lots of vegetables” this time. Obviously he was needing a little extra apapachamiento! Of course I always love making a new Salvadoran dish and seeing the way his eyes light up when it’s a success, so I did some research, looked at a handful of recipes, and then headed to the grocery store to get what I needed.

Before the soup was even ready, Carlos was getting excited. He kept calling out to me from the living room where he was on the sofa covered in a blanket, “It smells so good. It smells like I remember…” Then when it was ready, I put the bowl before him at the table and he smiled, “It looks like how I remember!” … Then he tasted it, and I’m not exaggerating, he stood up, kissed me (on the neck so I wouldn’t get his germs) and told me he loved me. Jajaja.

Here’s my recipe in case you know a sick salvadoreño or salvadoreña who could use a little “TLC”, (Cuidado amoroso y tierno.)

Sopa de Pollo Salvadoreño

You need:

10 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
3 corn cobs, broken in half
1/2 1 small cabbage, cut in chunks
basil, (fresh, not dry)
2 to 3 celery stalks with leaves
2 cups baby carrots, (or cut up carrots)
3 green onions, (roots cut off)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 small potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small zucchini, skin removed and chopped in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup uncooked rice or small pasta like “conchitas” (little shells)
1 tsp. salt, plus to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. achiote (ground annatto)


1. Assemble and prepare all your ingredients, (wash and chop vegetables, etc.)

Note: I used all boneless, skinless chicken thighs because Carlos prefers dark meat and it gives the stock a better flavor, but you can use a whole chicken cut in pieces (remove skin – bones optional as some people like to “chupar el hueso”), or substitute some chicken breasts. As for the vegetables, feel free to experiment. For example, some people use yucca instead of potatoes, and some add chayote/güisquil, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or green pepper.

2. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, add the chicken plus enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

3. Add to the pot: a handful of cilantro, a handful of basil, celery stalks with leaves, garlic, tomatoes, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, cumin, pepper, and achiote.

4. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove and then discard the cilantro, basil, celery, tomatoes and green onions. Use a small sieve to skim off any foam.

5. Add the rice (or pasta), corn cobs, potatoes, and carrots. Cook covered until rice is cooked and vegetables are tender.

6. Remove cover. Add cabbage and zucchini. Simmer for a minute or two and then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly and then taste. Add additional salt as desired. (I prefer to let each person add more salt to their own individual portion.)

7. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro if desired. (I like to eat all the meat and vegetables out of it and then eat the broth with crushed Ritz crackers.)

Buen provecho!


  1. I can almost smell the wonderful flavor! My mother used to make chicken soup and bring jars of it to Syosset on the Long Island Railroad. She knew I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making it like you so expertly do.

      • I meant to say aroma, not flavor. She made a whole chicken and put in carrots, celery, “soup greens”, (which you could buy in a bundle of other vegetables in the grocery) and I don’t know what else. I hope it cured Carlos.
        Googled – “soup greens”… celery, parsnip, turnip, dill, leek, and parsley.

    • I bet all that gave a lot of flavor. I’ve never seen them packaged together in the grocery store like that. I wonder if people just don’t make homemade soup enough anymore so they stopped selling them that way.

      Carlos is doing better, (enough to go to work today), but it’s still lingering. I think sometimes one just needs time and rest.

  2. Thank you so much for the recipe! My Salvadorian mother always made me this soup but now that I have moved away and married, I miss it. But I will be making it for my gringo husband as we enter winter.

  3. hello. Just wanted to let you know that my home smells great. Homemade fresh aroma. My parents are Salvadoran and my mom makes this soup. In El Salvador I’ve tried soup made from “gallina india”, which is wild hen. It’s amazing.

    My wife and I are sick so I am here after finding you in Google. Can’t wait to taste. Smells divine. Thanks for posting and sharing. This recipe is 100% Salvadoran! High five!

    From Miami.

  4. Thank you for the recipe. I love this soup there is nothing better than homemade soup. Please continue sharing your recipes.

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe!:) I was born in Dallas, Texas and raised. My boyfriend soon to husband Marcos Campos is from El Salvador! I love him dearly. He doesn’t push me to cook dishes from El Salvador but I want to learn myself.

  6. My wife is Salvadorian yet I’m the cook in the family. I’ve used your Salvadorian recipes often over the past couple years. This is my father- in-law’s favorite recipe! I use yucca and güisquil instead of potatoes and zucchini! Thank you for easy to follow, easy to make recipes that my family lives!

    • You made my day with this comment. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. Saludos to you, your wife, and your father-in-law :)

  7. I am Salvadoran and my husband is Mexican and Central American. This recipe was easy to follow and yielded a very authentic sopa de pollo. Like many commenters; I sought out chicken soup to comfort a bad cold. I am resting now and happy to have made your recipes acquaintance. Thank you for your time an effort in sharing these recipes with strangers.

Note: You are not required to sign in to leave a comment. Please feel free to leave the email and/or website fields blank for an easier commenting experience.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.