Hola friends! Late last night I flew back home from my vacation in Mexico and I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen today. One of my wonderful readers suggested Sopa de Fideo to me a couple weeks ago and I thought this would be an appropriate time to give it a try (kind of like a final celebration of all the wonderful things I saw and experienced in Mexico).
This incredibly simple soup is easy to make, full of flavor, and (of course) inexpensive. What makes it special is the toasted vermicelli noodles that add a little extra depth of flavor compared to your every day noodle soup. There are a million ways to make Sopa de Fideo, so I put my own spin on it with a little cumin, lime juice, and fresh cilantro (because I LOVE lime in soup). If you want to make this soup a little heartier, you can add some shredded chicken, or store bought rotisserie chicken. If you want to have fun with toppings, try a few chunks of avocado, some crumbled queso fresco, or even a few tortilla chips. I ate mine plain and simple as described below and loved every spoonful!
Sopa de Fideo (noodle soup)
Sopa de Fideo
- 1 medium onion ($0.41)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.04)
- 8 oz uncooked vermicelli noodles ($0.75)
- 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes ($1.39)
- 6 cups chicken broth ($0.79)
- 1 medium jalapeño (optional) ( $0.05)
- 1 medium lime ($0.25)
- 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (optional) ($0.22)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic so they are ready to go when needed.
- Add the vegetable oil to a large soup pot. Break the vermicelli noodles into one to two inch sections and then add them to the pot. Cook the dry noodles in the oil over medium-low heat while constantly stirring for 3-5 minutes, or until the noodles have turned golden brown and are slightly blistered.
- Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and cumin to the pot with the noodles and continue to cook and stir for a few minutes more, or until the onions have softened.
- Add a little of the juice from the can of tomatoes to the pot to stop the browning of the noodles. Use a blender or immersion blender to purée the canned tomatoes along with their remaining juices. Add the puréed tomatoes to the pot with the noodles, along with the six cups of chicken broth.
- If using a jalapeño pepper, add it to the pot whole (this gives a slight jalapeño flavor without too much heat). Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow it to come to a boil. Let the pot simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the noodles are soft.
- Add lime juice and roughly chopped cilantro leaves to the finished soup just before serving (I used juice from half the lime, but adjust to your liking).
Step by Step Photos
First I diced one onion and minced two cloves of garlic. You can use a white or yellow onion here, whichever you have or prefer. I wanted these to be chopped and ready to go when I needed to add them to the pot. The next step of browning the noodles can go quickly, so you need to be prepared in order to prevent burning the noodles.
Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large soup pot. Break 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) of vermicelli noodles into one to two inch sections. Add them to the pot and cook while stirring over medium-low heat for a few minutes, or until the noodles are golden brown like this. Aim for about half of the noodles being browned because they may brown slightly more in the next step.
Once the noodles look brown and a little blistered, add the pre-chopped onions, garlic, and cumin. Continue to cook while stirring for a few minutes more while the onions soften (the cumin will also toast a little in the process). The moisture released from the onions should slow down the browning of the noodles and keep them from going too far.
Next it’s time to purée the canned tomatoes. Why use whole tomatoes if you’re just going to purée them anyway? Rumor has it (that just means I forgot where I heard it) that the better tomatoes are used for “whole” canned tomatoes, while the poorer quality tomatoes are used for diced or crushed tomatoes. I don’t know if that’s true, but we’ll go with it today. Anyway…
Add a little of the juice from one 28-oz. can of whole tomatoes to the soup pot with the noodles to stop them from browning. Then add the rest (tomatoes and juices) to a blender and blend until they are puréed. I left mine just slightly chunky. Add the puréed tomatoes to the pot.
Also add 6 cups of chicken broth. I use Better Than Bouillon soup base to make my broth because it’s less expensive than canned broth and I can mix up any amount that I need. The little jar just sits in my fridge ready for whenever I need broth. (1 tsp chicken base + 1 cup water = 1 cup broth)
Lastly, add one WHOLE jalapeño to the pot. Why whole? It infuses the soup with a little jalapeño flavor without much heat. BUT take that with a grain of salt. Every pepper has its own level of heat, so I can’t guarantee that it won’t be spicy with this method. Just drop the pepper in whole, place a lid on the soup, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let it come to a boil. Let the soup boil for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through.
Once the noodles are cooked, it’s time to add the final touches. A squeeze of lime juice and some roughly chopped cilantro. I used about half of the lime and 1/4 bunch of cilantro, but you can use more or less to taste.
Stir them in and serve. The longer the soup sits, the more the noodles will absorb the broth and fill up the pot. In this picture, right after simmering, it’s still pretty brothy. After taking all my photographs it was thick and noodly. YUM.
Amazing, simple, and delicious!