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Caldo de Res ...or is it Mole de Olla!? {Red Chile Beef Soup w/ Vegetables}

Caldo de Res and Mole de Olla are not necessarily the same thing.  But since dishes vary from region to region, sometimes they can overlap.  The recipe that I based this Caldo de Res on was actually labeled Mole de Olla.  But mi esposo and local Mexican friends tell me NO!  It's not Mole de Olla, it's Caldo de Res.  Confused much?  I asked hubby just what the difference is...and he says he doesn't really know.  I tried researching it a bit, but when I find pictures or descriptions of one or the other, they somewhat overlap.  Perhaps some regions leave the chiles out of their Caldo de Res?*  Perhaps some leave it out of their Olla de Mole?  After a few hours of hair pulling and trying to figure out here from there, I just gave in and decided it could be either-or.  I really do think it boils down to who is making it.  Methods seems to vary from region to region, city to city, family to family, and cook to cook.

When I talked about the different types of moles the other day, I mentioned that although not a sauce, Mole de Olla still qualifies as a mole in the broader sense of its original meaning of stew or sauce.  Looking at the meaning of the terms...Olla is actually the name of the pot that something is (traditionally) cooked in ...a tall, narrow earthenware pot.  So, originally...a soupy mole that simmered in an olla.  A caldo is basically a soup or broth.  So...a meaty broth in this case, if you will.

Yeah.  I'm still not any closer to deciphering the two.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on either.  If you've tried them.  If you make them.  What is your version, or the version you know you like?  And if you know the region of Mexico your version came from, I'd love to know that as well.  No matter the name, this is a rich, brothy soup laden with meat, chile, and veggies that is sure to satisfy.
Caldo de Res (or Mole de Olla)
Red Chile Beef Soup w/ Vegetables
inspired by & adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
yield: ~3 quarts

1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1½" chunks
1½ lb. oxtails, in 2" pcs.
~1 tsp. sea salt
2 small white onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
~¾ oz. dried guajillo chiles, seeded & stemmed
~¾ oz. dried ancho chiles, seeded & stemmed
1 medium, very ripe tomato
small handful cilantro (or 5 sprigs epazote)
2 large carrots, sliced ¼" thick
2 medium zucchini, ½" dice
2 ears corn, husked & cut into 1" sections
4 oz. fresh green beans, snipped & halved

for serving:
white onion, finely diced
lime wedges
Place the meat in a large (should hold at least 6 quarts) soup pot or Dutch oven with 3 quarts of cold water.  Bring to a bowl, skimming of any gray scum/foam that rises to the top (these are the impurities and you don't want them in your soup).  Once the water is boiling, put heat on medium-low.  After the scum has all been skimmed off add salt, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, pepper, and cloves to the pot.  Partially cover the pot and simmer it for ~1½ hours.  

While the broth is gently bubbling, rip the chiles open and toast them on a heavy skillet over medium heat for just a few seconds per side.  Place in a bowl and cover with very hot water.  Put a plate on top to keep the chiles submerged and let them sit for ~30 minutes.   Add chiles to the jar of a blender along with the tomato and 3 Tbs. of water.  Process until very smooth.  Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a small bowl and set aside.
After the hour and a half is up, skim as much fat from the top of the broth as you can.  Stir in the chile puree and the cilantro (or epazote).  Partially cover again and simmer gently for another 30 minutes.

Uncover the pot and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Add the veggies and cook until just tender, ~10 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Ladle the soup into bowls, making sure to put some of everything in each bowl.  Pass the diced onion and lime wedges for everybody to add to their bowls as they like.
*Update: ...and yes, I'm told that Caldos usually are just the broth, without chile.  When you add chiles, it turns into the Mole.  Although, I'm guessing it has evolved over generations, like in my hubby's (and many others) family.  He grew up with chiles in his Caldo de Res.  But I do believe to be technically correct, without chile equals caldo and with equals mole. 

Today is the 3 year anniversary of Souper Sundays which is hosted weekly by my friend Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.  Be sure to head over there this evening and check out all of the wonderful soups (plus salads and sandwiches) she's rounding up for this celebration!

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