SOPA DE FIDEOS : Tomato Soup With Capellini, Avocado, And Chicharron
For many, sopa de fideos is the comforting taste of home. It is served everywhere, every day, in tiny loncherías, tony men’s clubs, and traditional restaurants as well as at mama’s kitchen table. I had this version at the venerable Fonda el Refugio in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa, where a crew of formidable female cooks (las mayoras) rule the kitchen. This slow cooker recipe takes only a couple of hours from start to finish. It is made with coils of toasted fideos, which are similar to capellini, also called angel hair pasta. For the meat, use shredded bits from Caldo de Res, Shredded Beef, or any other leftover meat.
SERVES 4 to 6
4 whole Roma tomatoes
3 cups water
1 (8-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (6-ounce) package dried fideos or angel hair pasta
½ white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups Caldo de Pollo
1 cup (about 6 ounces) cooked meat, finely diced
Diced Hass avocado
New Mexico or puya chiles, toasted and crumbled
Combine the Roma tomatoes and water in a small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium-high and simmer the tomatoes until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and place the tomatoes in a blender along with the canned tomatoes and their juice; don’t blend yet.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Break the fideos up into 1-inch pieces and fry slowly, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the skillet and drain on a paper towel.
Wipe out the pan and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat stirring often, until soft and golden. Add the onions and garlic to the tomatoes in the blender and puree until very smooth. (For a smoother texture, you can press the puree through a fine-mesh sieve or food mill, if you like.)
Pour the puree back into the hot skillet and fry over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. (If the sauce splatters, reduce the heat.)
Add the puree to the slow cooker along with the broth and reserved tomato cooking liquid. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour, then add the fideos, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, until the pasta is soft, about 1 hour more. Just before serving, stir in the cooked meat. Serve the soup hot with the avocado, chicharrón, and chiles on the side.
• To make sopa seca, use half the amount of water and caldo. It will be thick, like a soupy pasta. Top with crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese.
• To make sopa de tortilla, do not use fideos. Instead, cut 4 corn tortillas into small squares, fry in vegetable oil until crisp, and divide among the serving bowls. To serve, pour the hot tomato broth over and top each bowl with crumbled queso fresco and a few pieces of diced avocado.