Sopa Seca (literal translation is dry soup in Spanish) is a Mexican noodle dish. Pasta is toasted, mixed with salsa, and cooked in chicken stock until all the liquid is absorbed. If you want to add meat, shredded chicken is a popular addition.
I used fideos, but you can also use orzo or angel hair broken into small pieces. When toasting the fideos, keep an eye on them. They quickly turn from lightly toasted to burnt.
I used Aarón Sánchez’s recipe for Tomato Chile de Arbol Salsa. This salsa recipe makes about 2 cups, but you will only need a cup for the Sopa Seca. When making the salsa, you can control the spice level with the amount of chiles de arbol you add. Of course, you don’t have to prepare this particular salsa if you have another favorite. The more flavorful salsa you use, the better your Sopa Seca will be.
Cotija is a white cow’s milk cheese from Mexico with a strong, salty flavor. It is named after the town of Cotija in Michoacán. When fresh, it is similar in consistency to feta cheese. It becomes more firm and crumbly with age. I have been able to find it in the specialty cheese section of larger grocery stores or in international markets with a Mexican section. If you are unable to find it, Pecorino Romano may be used as a substitute.
Fideo is the Spanish word for noodle. It is a common ingredient in North and South American, Spanish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. These noodles are about the same width as angel hair pasta and you can find them packaged in short pieces or long strands bundled up in nests. If you are unable to find fideos in your area, substitute with angel hair pasta broken into about 1 inch pieces. Break them up in a bag or other controlled environment. Before I found fideos, I often ended up with random pieces of angel hair flying across my kitchen. Fideos can also be found on Amazon (currently with a high shipping cost- try to find local if possible): La Moderna Coil Fideo (Pack Of 3).
Sopa Seca (Mexican Dry Soup)
Adapted from Aarón Sánchez
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups fideos (or small shaped pasta-orzo)
1 cup Roasted Tomato and Chile de Arbol Salsa or your favorite salsa
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Grated Cotija, Queso Fresco, or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
In a large saucepan, drizzle canola oil over medium high heat. Once thoroughly heated, add fideos or other pasta. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted.
Discard half of the oil and stir in 1 cup of the prepared salsa. Continue to stir for 2 minutes. Mix in the chicken stock.
Once the stock begins to simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has been absorbed. This will take about 20 minutes. Season with salt if needed- based on the salt content of your stock and salsa.
Serve immediately with cilantro and cheese.