Friday, January 17, 2014

Quinoa Caldo con Pollo

quinoa caldo serving
One of my favorite Filipino dishes is called Arroz Caldo. It is a Filipino dish made of glutinous rice and chicken with lots of garlic. This dish brings up so many childhood memories. This is our go-to soup whenever I am sick (Mom made it) and my favorite breakfast after my long Sunday runs. Since it’s winter (more winter in certain parts of the country), I am getting a craving for this childhood favorite.

By the way, I don’t think glutinous means that it is filled with gluten. It refers to it being glue-like or sticky. As far as the gluten content, you will need to check your dietician.

I have been meaning to make Arroz Caldo for a long time. However, I cannot find glutinous white rice anywhere. I was able to find black glutinous rice, but not white rice. I think the dish would look very different if I used black rice.

However, quite by accident when making garlic chicken soup for my then sick hubby, I put about 1/2 cup of white quinoa in the yummy broth. The result was very similar to Arroz Caldo: a nice thick broth with a similar consistency. I think I found the replacement.

For this recipe, I used chicken thighs to get that fatty chicken goodness. However, if you are watching your animal fat intake, you may want to opt for skinless thighs or even a chicken breast (cubed or probably shredded). Alternatively, you can just reduce the amount of fat before adding water. I probably left about 3-4 tablespoons in the pot and got rid of the rest.

Although sometimes I am tempted to add the usual gang of veggies, I try to resist. Ginger is the star of this dish. Also, although adding potatoes, carrots, and other stuff that you may have in your fridge is tempting – resist! That is not Arroz Caldo… or in this case, Quinoa Caldo.

Here’s what I have so far. Let me know what you think.

Quinoa Caldo con Pollo
Based on many childhood memories and the Arroz Caldo from Panlasang Pinoy
Serves 3


  • 3 chicken thighs, skins on
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 2 thumbs ginger
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 2 TBSP of olive oil
  • Roasted garlic, optional
  • Lime wedges, optional
  • Green onion, optional


  1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt, pepper, and if desired, some ginger powder.
  2. In a pot, heat the cooking oil then sweat the onion and ginger.
  3. Add some salt (maybe a dash or two) and some ground black pepper.
  4. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, until both sides are seared. At this point, you can skim out some, if not all of the fat. (Sometimes) I prefer to keep it in to get that chicken fat flavor.
  5. Pour in the water and let the chicken par-boil (I have not timed it, but I usually let it cook until the water is just about to boil).
  6. Add the quinoa until the quinoa is cooked (about 15 minutes). It should still be “soupy”.
  7. Serve hot with roasted garlic, green onions, and lime (This adds a layer of flavor; I did not have green onion this time).


This is delicious and hits the spot. Using quinoa instead of rice actually adds to the fiber and protein. Also, I think quinoa is naturally gluten-free (but I am not a nutritionist, so please check first with your friendly dietician).

Cooking Quinoa CaldoIf you prefer, you can add fish sauce if you want that extra Filipino flavor (and not watching your sodium), but this is great as it is. Ironically, if I do use fish sauce, I use Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce because it is a bit mellower.

Traditional Arroz Caldo also calls for safflower for to get that distinct yellow “Arroz Caldo” color and aroma. I did not use it because I am not sure how it will react with the quinoa.

Ideally, you should use white quinoa only to get the Arroz Caldo look.  I suppose you can use red or black quinoa, but again, like the black rice thing, it won’t look like Arroz Caldo.

For the original recipe and how to make Roasted Garlic, go to Panlasang Pinoy (literally translates to “Filipino Taste”).


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