This delicious Mexican-inspired Caldo de Queso is a cheese and potato-based soup made with tomatoes, stock and mild chilies. The traditional recipe originates in the Northern part of Mexico and it's a hearty and tasty soup that can be both served as a main dish or as a starter.
The traditional recipe calls for a cheese originating in Sonora (the Northern part of Mexico) and California chilies, which are both widely available in Northern Mexico, but rare in other parts of the country and the rest of the world. In this version of the Mexican soup, I used a plant-based greek-style cheese from Violife - it has the perfect mix of flavor for the recipe and mostly holds its shape whilst being soft - and poblano chilies, which are a widely used replacement for California chilies in this dish.
This recipe is:
- cheesy and delicious
- inspired by the classic Mexican dish
- made to a 100% plant-based recipe
- made with vegan cheese as an easy alternative to 'queso fresco'
- a tasty soup for dinner
- easy to make
- made with poblano peppers and potatoes
- naturally gluten-free
What is Caldo de Queso?
Caldo de Queso is a traditional soup dish that originated in the state of Sonora in Mexico, and it is widely known in the Northern part of Mexico. It translates to "Cheese Soup" but can also be called "Caldo de Queso Con Papas" (Cheese Soup with Potatoes). It's a hearty and creamy soup traditionally made with cheese and potatoes, and there are different varieties with a mix of vegetables and chilies.
This soup dish is known by a variety of names, including 'Caldo de papas y queso' (Potato and cheese soup), 'Caldo de papa' (Potato soup), 'Caldo de queso y papa' (Cheese soup with potatoes) and 'Caldo de queso estilo Sonora' (Cheese soup from Sonora).
Which cheese to use for Caldo de Queso?
Traditionally, a cheese from the Sonora area in Mexico is used for this dish. However, this type of cheese is not widely available outside of Northern Mexico.
There are a couple of delicious alternative cheeses that can be used to make this recipe. For this recipe, you would need a soft cheese that lightly melts, but holds its shape when suspended in the warm soup.
In other parts of Mexico, this soup is often made with 'queso fresco' or 'queso panela', which are soft, fresh cheeses that are more widely available.
For best results, do not use a high-fat cheese, as this would completely melt into the soup - and we want to keep some texture here!
The cheese that I have used for this recipe is a vegan greek-style cheese alternative from Violife. I have found that it's the perfect replacement for queso fresco, as it is soft and only melts a little when added to the soup. It adds a tasty creaminess to the soup, but also some texture, which is what we're going for.
Which chilies to use for Caldo de Queso?
Traditionally, this recipe uses California peppers (aka 'Anaheim green chilies"). This variety is widely known in Northern Mexico and Sonora, where this dish originates. However, these chilies are not easy to find in the rest of Mexico and beyond, and this dish is therefore often made with 'chile poblano' instead.
These are more widely available across the whole of Mexico and beyond.
Where to buy Poblano Peppers?
Alternatively, you can order them on Amazon US.
For the tinned variety, you can conveniently order them on Amazon UK.
Replacing the Poblano Peppers
If you can't get hold of Poblano Peppers or Anaheim Green Chilies, you can use any type of green pepper. A good replacement is Italian peppers for example.
Ingredients for this recipe
To enjoy a delicious Caldo de queso you need the following ingredients:
- Cheese: Traditionally a local cheese from Northern Mexico is used, but 'queso fresco' is a popular replacement. For this recipe, I've used a dairy-free and vegan-friendly version - the greek-style cheese alternative from Violife. It's perfect as it gets slightly melty but holds its shape a little - as you wouldn't want to use a cheese that melts into the soup entirely. Cut the cheese into cubes before adding it to the recipe. As an addition, I like to add a spoonful of cream cheese to the soup, to give it a delicious creaminess - this is totally optional though!
- Potatoes: Use white peeled potatoes, and cut them into equal bite-size chunks.
- Green chili peppers: Traditionally this soup recipe uses Anaheim or California peppers. A popular replacement is Poblano Peppers (check the notes above about where to buy them!), but you can use whichever peppers are available to you, such as Italian peppers as well. If you are using fresh peppers, roast them & remove the skin and seeds before adding them to the recipe,
- Onion: I use yellow onions, chopped into small pieces or slices. I like to add the onions to the oil at the beginning of the recipe and sprinkle them with a little salt. This helps them release their water and soften quicker.
- Garlic: I like to grate my garlic cloves with a zester to create a smooth garlic puree. This way it brings out the full flavor whilst mixing well into the potato soup without any big bits.
- Tomatoes: these should be cut into small chunks, but you can alternatively also use a little tomato sauce or tomato paste to add the tomato flavor to the cheese soup.
- Stock: For the traditional recipe, chicken stock is used. For this plant-based version, I've used vegan-friendly vegetable stock.
- Seasonings: In addition to the garlic above, we're adding oregano, salt and pepper to this potato and cheese soup. At the end of the recipe, you can adjust the salt and pepper in the soup to your taste.
- Garnish: garnish is optional for this soup recipe, but I like to add a few leaves of fresh coriander.
- 1 large saucepan
How to make this Mexican cheese soup
Step 1: Preparation
If you are using tinned Poblano peppers that are already cooked, peeled, and deseeded, then slice them into thin strips and skip ahead to step 2.
If you are using fresh Poblano peppers (or other fresh peppers as a replacement), drizzle them with a little oil and roast them in the oven, over an open flame, or in the air fryer until lightly blackened. Carefully remove the skin and seeds, cut them into strips, and set the peppers aside.
Step 2: Base for the soup & simmering
Heat the oil in the large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the grated garlic and stir for a minute, then add the chopped tomato, vegetable stock, and potatoes.
Cover with a lid and cook for roughly 20 minutes on low heat, or until the potatoes are tender.
Step 3: Seasoning
Stir in the cream cheese, then add the roasted chilies and oregano. Cook for 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the cheese you're about to add is very salty, consider adding less salt and adjust when serving, if needed.
Step 4: Serving
Place the cheese cubes onto the serving plates and cover them in the soup before serving. To garnish, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve warm.
Serving the soup
You can easily serve this cheese soup on its own, or with a side of toasted bread! Another delicious option is warm soft tortilla or soft bread rolls to dip into the soup.
To make this delicious soup ahead of time, allow for it to cool down completely at room temperature, then transfer it to an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The soup also freezes well! You can store this soup in the freezer for up to 3 months.
It's a great opportunity to make a big batch of the soup, then store it for a quick and easy dinner! Simply allow for the frozen soup to thaw at room temperature, then heat it up in the microwave before garnishing & enjoying it warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Poblano chilies are easily bought cooked and tinned! You can try your local Amazon website or the world foods aisle of your local supermarket.
Traditionally, caldo de queso uses Anaheim Green Chilies, also known as California peppers. However, these chilies are not easy to find beyond the Northern part of Mexico and this dish is therefore often made with 'chile poblano' instead.
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You might also enjoy these recipes:
Caldo de Queso (Mexican Cheese and Potato Soup)
- 1 large saucepan
- 1 tbsp olive oil (15 ml)
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced (75g, 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garlic grated
- 7 oz tomatoes, diced (200 g)
- 14 oz potatoes (400 g)
- 1 tbsp cream cheese (15 g) dairy-free
- 3 cups vegetable stock (750 ml)
- 1-2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled & deseeded
- 1 tsp oregano
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup greek-style cheese block, cubed (125 g) e.g. Violife
- a handful cilantro to garnish
- If you are using tinned poblano peppers, drain and deseed them, then cut them into thin strips and set aside. For fresh poblano peppers, drizzle them in a little oil and roast them in the oven or over an open flame until lightly blackened. Peel the skin, remove the seeds and cut into slices, then set them aside.
- For the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft, then add the grated garlic. Stir to combine and after 1 minute, add the chopped tomato, vegetable stock, and potatoes.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Once the time elapses, stir in the cream cheese, and add the roasted chilies and oregano. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then remove from the stove and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place the cheese cubes onto your serving bowl and cover them in the soup to serve. Sprinkle with black pepper and fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
- To make this delicious soup ahead of time, allow for it to cool down completely at room temperature, then transfer it to an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- The soup also freezes well! You can store this caldo de queso in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Traditionally, a cheese from the Sonora area in Mexico is used for this dish. However, this type of cheese is not widely available outside of Northern Mexico. The soup is therefore often made with 'queso fresco' or 'queso panela'. I have used the Violife Greek-style block in this recipe, as it adds the perfect flavor whilst holding the shape.
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