Submitted by Cindy Bighorse, a retired software engineer in Fort Worth, Texas (cindybighorse.com)
This is an amazing story! Be sure to read it before you make this lovely soup…
I love Mexican food. Really love Mexican food. Few cuisines can compare to the simple ingredients and spices that magically make your mouth water. That was in Texas. I had been eating Tex-Mex forever, but would meet my true love with Sonoran style Mexican food.
My company transferred me to Tucson, Arizona. Mexican food was everywhere. I was overjoyed. The biggest problem was deciding where to eat… The Old Donkey Inn, Karichimaca’s, and many more wonderful establishments extended their signs high in the air, visible from the road. It was my first day on the job – Art (he and his wife Stella later became my adopted parents) took me to Candy’s, a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant hidden in a small strip center. It had eight tables for her loyal customers. Art ordered for me. My first bite of Sonoran food had me hooked. Art and I ate there frequently, mostly on Fridays. We wanted to close out the week on a high note.
Spring rolled around and we made our Friday jaunt to Candy’s. I wanted flautas that day, but her menu changed. This was Lent, so the menu did not offer meat dishes. Art suggested the Lenten Special. The plate arrived with cheese enchiladas, rice, beans, and was accompanied with a bowl of soup. “Caldo de Queso,” offered our waitress, “Mexican Cheese Soup, it is good.”
I loved that soup and often ordered it a la carte. Suddenly, Lent was over and so was the Caldo. “Next year,” our waitress encouraged with her perpetual smile. So each year after that, I cherished the seven Fridays when I could enjoy my piping hot bowl of soup.
Sadly, our company closed that location and I moved back to Texas. I married, had a daughter, and kept in touch with Art and Stella. They invited us to visit. We caught a flight to Tucson. As was tradition, we made our way to Candy’s on the Friday we were flying home. Candy’s had expanded and took over several of the units. Her “Caldo” was on the daily menu. I joyfully ordered Caldo and the waitress headed to the kitchen with our orders. The waitress returned saying there was no more soup. What? I was crushed. I waited 10 years and traveled over 1000 miles for a bowl of deliciousness. The waitress handed me a menu for the second time. I placed my new order, but my heart wasn’t in it.
It took longer than usual for our meal to be served. The charming young lady brought our dishes, then quickly retreated to the kitchen. She returned moments later with the biggest bowl I’ve ever seen, loaded with Caldo de Queso. I was in heaven! The soup was as good as ever. Candy came out moments later, grinning from ear to ear. She was curious about the customer who came back after a decade to eat at her restaurant. We had a quick visit, then she was back to the kitchen. When we paid our check, my receipt was accompanied with a copy of her soup recipe.
Mexican Cheese Soup (aka Caldo de Queso)
1 lb russet baking potato, cubed (peel on or off, your preference)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 can of Rotel tomatoes (if not available in your area, sub 1 can whole tomatoes, chopped; 1 small onion diced, ¼ cup chopped chilies – more or less according to your Scoville (heat units) tolerance)
Cubed cheese – cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc.
Boil potatoes in chicken stock, water, and Rotels until fork tender.
Place a couple of cilantro leaves in the bottom of the soup bowls, then fill with the soup.
Drop cheese in the soup and let sit for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melty and stringy.
Go back for seconds!