Every Saturday, regardless the season, my father made caldo de res, beef soup, for our lunch. He would quarter a whole cabbage, halve corn on the cob, and add potatoes and carrots to the beef soup bone broth. He sometimes, but very rarely, made caldo de pollo for he preferred the heartiness of beef over the lightness of chicken.
We groaned over his caldo de res, wanting hamburgers or pizza, anything but watery soup, but he ignored us. He recounted an old child’s tale about a mean stepmother who served the broth to her stepchildren and gave the drained meat and vegetables to her own. She wondered why her hated hijastros looked healthy and robust and her querido bebes grew listless and pale.
We didn’t care that the broth was healthier than the other caldo ingredients, we wanted to sink our teeth into food and not slurp our way to the bottom of the bowl.
It has been almost half a century since the days of my father’s Saturday afternoon caldo, but I can still taste it, especially when I make my own for HoneyBunch. I rarely make caldo de res; I had my fill of that as a child, but I enjoy dressing up a can of canned by adding extra broth, canned tomatoes, and spices like oregano, basil, or cilantro. I make a killer green pea soup and a tasty broccoli cheddar. There is a “skinny soup” I hijacked out of a Weight Watcher cookbook that I adjusted to my own taste.
Every time I take my first slurp, I remember my dad and the story of the mean stepmother, and I can feel its magic working its way down my tummy and into my bones, especially my soul.