The weather has been cooling down this past several days, it's finally starting to feel like Fall. Cooler weather to me always means time to make Arroz Caldo. This rice soup can be closely compared to Chinese congee or rice porridge. I remember eating this all the time when I was little, usually served during the rainy season or when someone in the family is starting to get the sniffles. Maybe it's just me but eating Arroz Caldo always make me feel a little better.
Making Arroz Caldo is very easy and only a few ingredients are used. In a large pot, heat a couple of tablespoon of cooking oil in medium heat. Add 10 cloves of finely minced garlic (it seems alot but most of it is set aside to use as topping later) and slowly cook until golden brown. Watch carefully since garlic burns quickly. Scoop most of the garlic into a small bowl and set aside. Add a medium finely chopped onion and raise heat to high. Cook until the onion have soften, about 2 minutes. Then add a 2-inch knob of ginger thinly sliced and stir until fragrant. Place some cut-up chicken, season with salt (or patis) and cook until chicken is opaque. Add about 6 cups of water and 2 cups of rice and bring to boil.
Then it's just a matter of letting the rice cook, about 20 minutes. Once the water boils, lower heat to medium and stir often to avoid scorching the rice at the bottom of the pot, every 5 minutes. While soup is cooking, prepare the soup toppings which can include: hard-boiled eggs, thinly-sliced scallions, more patis or even toyo (soy sauce) mixed with kalamansi (or lemon juice). Don't forget the fried garlic from earlier (which I think is the best part!) :)
My family's version of Arroz Caldo has a very thick consistency, to a point it would almost look like risotto. My husband and kids prefer a thinner consistency so I just add a little bit more water.To me, Arroz Caldo is the Filipino equivalent of chicken noodle soup. It not only warms the tummy but also warms the soul.