Mexican Tomato Sauces: Caldillo

The world knows salsa ranchera. That spicy tomato-jalapeño classic turning plain old eggs into huevos rancheros. Usually eaten at breakfast I’m equally happy to start, sustain or finish my day with this light but satisfying dish.

Ubiquitous in Mexico, caldillo is conspicouly absent in Europe. We introduce it here as a topping for pizza tamalera, subject of our next post.

Caldo means broth, soup or stock. Caldillo is a tomato sauce incrporating a big pot of of your favourite broth which has been slowly added and simmered off. Caldillo is typically served with stuffed poblano chillies but is heavenly with just about any dish using tomato sauce.

Click for guidelines on our home-made vegetable stock

Mexican dishes often contain aniseed aromas from herbs  such avocado leaves or hoja santa (holy leaf). Add  a couple to the stock if you can source them, othewise try fresh fennel bulb and tops or any mixture of aniseed, star anise, caraway and fennel seed for a rounded sweetness.

The recipe here is courtesy of Yolanda Perez, formerly of Walthamstow, (London, UK), now back in her native Veracruz, Mexico with her husband: “gracias Yolanda. Visitad pronto”.

courgette flowers on tomato sauce

Mexican Caldillo Tomato Sauce

A versatile tomato sauce with chipotle chile, corainder and a whole pot of vegetable broth. The soul of this sauce is the stock, so give your all for the best stock ever created (click here for our guidelines)
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Cuisine Mexican


  • a generous glug of good olive oil or any oil with a high smoking point
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 kg tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped or puréed in a food processor or a large jar of passata or even a couple of tins of tomatoes
  • 1-2 chipotles: preferably in adobo, otherwise use dry chipotles softened in a little warm water OR Spanish hot smoked paprika
  • a bunch of corander - leaves, stems and roots
  • 1 litre of your best vegetable stock (keep it simmering in its own pan)
  • seasoning to taste


  • Start by making a good vegetable stock (click here for guidelines)
  • Heat enough oil to cover a medium, deep fying pan
  • Add the onions and garlic and soften at medium low heat for around 10 minutes
  • Add the chopped or puréed tomatoes and chipotle chillies
  • Sweet or hot smoked Spanish paprika is a reasonable substitute if you want to keep the heat down or if you can;t source chipotles
  • When the tomatoes start to reduce down start adding a couple of ladlefuls of hot stock. Reduce this down, uncovered, and keep adding similar quantities of stock. When you've used up half of your stock-pot add the coriander, season and continue adding stock until it's all used up
  • Use in your favourite dishes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating