There’s a reason so many of us stocked up on boxes of long and short noodle varieties and cans of soup at the beginning of all those “sheltering in place” orders — and it’s not just the favorable expiration dates. No one can deny the comforting consolation provided by a plate of noodles or a bowl of soup. And a bowl of noodles with soup? Magic.
Like so many cuisines, from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia, Mexico has its version of a comforting noodle soup: the beloved sopa de fideo. One of the most traditional soups in Mexico, sopa de fideo is a regular part of the midday meal at home as well as served at fondas, small, family-run restaurants that offer a set three-course menu for a reasonable price.
As a stock-based noodle soup, sopa de fideo (fideo is Spanish for noodle) is made with short, spaghetti-like noodles that are a staple in Mexican pantries and, borrowing from the pilaf method, typically sautéed first in fat before being cooked in stock. The soup originated in Spain, with historians believing it’s the result of Moorish influence: The Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula in the 8th and 9th centuries, bringing rice and saffron for paella, pickling fish for conserva, and countless other delicacies.
When Spanish colonizers brought sopa de fideo to Mexico in the 1600s, Mexican cooks made it their own by adding roasted tomato, providing a tangy base for the golden brown noodles. For her own sopa de fideo, cookbook author and recipe blogger Mely Martinez keeps it simple and traditional: a base of tomatoes, garlic, and onion that coat the cooked noodles.
Martinez’s first cookbook, The Mexican Home Kitchen — featured in Eater’s fall 2020 cookbook preview — highlights her favorite Mexican dishes, including the sopa de fideo recipe fans of her blog Mexico in My Kitchen go crazy for. Check out the recipe and try it for yourself.
Sopa de Fideo
For the soup:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces fideo (can be found in most Latin markets, you can also use cut spaghetti here)
10 ounces tomatoes, roasted
1 large garlic clove or 2 small ones
1⁄2 cup white onion, chopped
6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Mexican queso fresco, crumbled
Step 1: Place roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onion into a blender. Process until you have a smooth mixture. Strain mixture using a colander into a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, and add the fideo noodles. Fry the noodles slightly, stirring often, until they have a light golden-brown color, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 3: Pour the tomato mixture into the saucepan, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth (or water mixed with the granulated bullion. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the saucepan. Simmer until the fideos are tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 4: Divide the soup into bowls and garnish with queso fresco and diced avocado. Enjoy!
Reprinted with permission from Mely Martinez, text and photography copyright (c) 2020. First published in 2020 by Rock Point, an imprint of The Quarto Group.