Nothing warms the body and soul like a comforting bowl of soup, and it can’t get any more heartwarming than Chicken Arroz Caldo. With the simplest ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, you’ll have a filling and inexpensive meal that’ll make you feel so warm and fuzzy with every bite!
Arroz Caldo, or Lugaw, is a very popular Filipino dish, and for good reason. Earthy aromatics infuse the rice porridge, along with juicy morsels of chicken, and pillowy grains of rice that make the soup lusciously thick. Seasoning with fish sauce brings a salty umami flavor that makes the soup unique (don’t get tempted to skip this!).
If you have yet to try this, you haven’t lived! And now is your opportunity.
Arroz Caldo Ingredients
One of the best things about making Chicken Arroz Caldo is that it only takes a few simple ingredients to make one delicious meal. Chances are, you already have the ingredients too!
- Chicken: For this dish, I love using dark meat chicken because it’s always so much juicier, however, feel free to swap it out for chicken breast.
- Aromatics & Seasonings: Because we’re using only a few ingredients, the ones we do use really matter. Make sure to use fresh garlic, onions, and ginger - and LOTS of it! Don’t reach for the granulated or powder forms. Then, to add an element of umami as well as saltiness, use fish sauce! It takes the soup to a whole new level compared to simply using salt. Lastly, is safflower, which adds a subtle sweetness and earthiness, while giving the soup a burst of color too!
- Chicken Stock: To pack even more flavor, a quick hack is to use chicken stock instead of just water. I highly recommend going for low-sodium chicken stock here so you have more control of the salt intake of your soup. If you only have regular sodium chicken stock, reduce the fish sauce so your soup doesn’t end up too salty.
- Rice: Glutinous rice is typically the rice of choice for Filipino Lugaw. It makes the soup extra lusciously thick from its starch! If you can’t find this on hand, however, don’t let that stop you from making it! Any grain of rice will do, as long as you cook it long enough to become incredibly tender.
- Toppings: The toppings for Filipino Lugaw add layers of additional flavor and texture to this hearty soup! You can customize your soup to fill up on some or all of these toppings to your heart’s desire!
- Calamansi (or Lemon) - A burst of citrus is an absolute MUST! If there were to be one topping I recommend not skipping, it’s this! It completely lifts and brightens the Chicken Arroz Caldo.
- Eggs - Boiled eggs is the most common method of serving, however, you’re the top chef of your kitchen! Cook your eggs how you love most.
- Fried Chicken Skin - Okay, who DOESN’T like crispy skin or chicharron, come on! If you happen to have chicken with skin-on, this is the perfect opportunity to turn it into something magical! Simply fry the chicken skin in a pan (doesn’t need to have oil because it’s fatty already), then once it’s crispy, transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate, and lightly dust with salt
- Sliced Green Onions - Green onions are a great way to add freshness and a light crisp to the dish!
- Fried Garlic - This one topping alone amplifies the garlic flavor in the most delicious way!
How to Make Arroz Caldo
If you’re ready to start cooking up the most comforting bowl of soup, let’s get started!
- Cook the chicken in a large pot on medium-high heat to begin to get a nice sear on them. The goal isn’t to cook it all the way through at this point since it’ll finish cooking with the rest of the soup. Cook until it’s about 80% done. The chicken should have some golden sears but still a little pink.
- Add in the onions, garlic, and ginger to start infusing the oil in the pan with deep earthy flavors. Once they soften (& your kitchen starts to smell AMAZING), add in the rice and safflower to begin to lightly toast. This adds another depth of flavor!
- Pour in the fish sauce, chicken broth, and black pepper and bring to a boil. Give the soup a final stir, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until the rice has become incredibly tender and has lost its sold grain shape.
- Turn off the heat and give it a final taste and adjust seasoning to include more fish sauce if more saltiness is needed. Serve with crispy garlic, green onions, and egg, if desired!
How to Make Crispy Garlic
Making crispy garlic is incredibly simple, but don’t let that fool you from easily walking away! You might end up with burnt garlic, which turns bitter quickly.
- Heat a small pan on medium-low heat with a couple of tablespoons of oil.
- Add in minced garlic and stir. Make sure the garlic isn’t immediately frying the garlic, otherwise, it’ll quickly burn. Low and slow is the key.
- Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate once they’re golden and crispy. Set aside for serving.
- Save Even More Time: If you have leftover rice, your meal just got even easier! Reduce the chicken stock to about half. Since your rice is already cooked, your cooking time will reduce as well!
- Pack in Extra Flavor: If you have the extra time, you can also use bone-in chicken, cut the meat from the bone into bite-size pieces, and add the bones in the soup while cooking. You’ll amplify the flavor of the chicken even more!
How to Store & Reheat
If you happen to have leftovers, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
The soup will become thicker over time. Reheat the soup stovetop or in the microwave, adding more water or chicken broth to loosen up the soup and get it to your desired consistency.
What is the Difference Between Lugaw and Arroz Caldo?
Lugaw is a blanket term for rice porridge in the Philippines. In the most basic form, it’s rice that’s been seasoned with a little ginger and fish sauce, then cooked in water to a porridge consistency.
Arroz Caldo is also a rice porridge but with more Spanish influence (hence the name!). The main difference is that Arroz Caldo is HEAVILY seasoned with ginger, chicken is added, and safflower or saffron is sprinkled in to give another layer of flavor and burst of yellow color!
What makes Arroz Caldo yellow?
Safflower or saffron turns the soup yellow while cooking. The red seasoning blends with the rest of the soup, giving a sweet earthy flavor and tinge of yellow color.
Is Lugaw and Congee the Same?
Lugaw is the Filipino variation of Congee. Although the two rice porridges are very similar, the main difference comes down to the texture and ingredients.
Lugaw is thicker in texture and is strongly infused with garlic, ginger, and fish sauce as its aromatics and seasonings.
Enjoy More Comforting Food Favorites!
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- ½ pound skinless boneless chicken thigh cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ small onion finely diced
- 3- inch ginger sliced
- 7 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup glutinous rice*
- 1 tablespoon safflower*
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
- 1 lemon sliced
- 2 hard-boiled eggs cut in half, optional
- Heat a large pot on medium-high heat then add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Add in chicken and cook until it’s about 80% done.
- Add in onions and ginger, then saute for about 1 minute, until it begins to turn tender. Add in garlic and saute for a few more seconds.
- Add in glutinous rice and safflower, then saute for 2 - 3 minutes to toast the rice.
- Pour in chicken broth, fish sauce, & black pepper. Stir soup then bring it to a boil. Give the pot another stir to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover, & cook for about 35 minutes, or until the rice is super tender. Stir to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the pot. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more low-sodium chicken stock.
- In the meantime, make the garlic crisp topping. Heat a small pan on medium-low, then add about 1 - 2 tablespoons of oil then add the remaining minced garlic. Cook until lightly golden and crisp, they’ll continue to slightly darken from the residual heat once they’re removed.
- Drain garlic from the oil then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- Taste soup and if it needs more salt, add in more fish sauce. Give it a final stir then turn off heat. Ladle soup into serving bowls then top with some of the crispy garlic, sliced green onions, hard-boiled eggs, and lemon wedges on the side, if desired. Enjoy!
- Chicken: I usually opt for boneless chicken for a quicker version of arroz caldo, however, if you have the extra time, you can swap it out for bone-in chicken for a much more robust flavor! Sear the chicken skin-side down, then follow the recipe. Once the chicken and rice are cooked, remove the chicken, shred it, then add the shredded chicken back in.
- Rice: To save even more time, you can use leftover cooked rice! Reduce the low-sodium chicken stock to about half. Your cooking time will also reduce since your rice is already cooked!
- Safflower: Alternatively, you can use saffron. If you can’t find either, your Arroz Caldo will still be delicious; the flavor will be slightly different and won’t have the yellow color.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and provided for informational purposes. Nutrition may vary based on product availability, methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.