Traditional Mexican noodle soup (sopa de fideo in Spanish) made with a tomato-based broth…this is a classic dish that is served all over Mexico as part of the comida. This recipe is straightforward to make and pleases both kids and adults. My kids always give me a big smile when we serve this as part of our meal. It is warm, comforting, and generally heart-pleasing ?
What is fideo?
Fideo basically translates to pasta in Spanish. The variety in Mexico is a short, stick-shaped pasta, kind of like spaghetti or angel hair broken into about 1-inch pieces. The fideo manufacturers in Mexico intentionally make this pasta short enough to fit on a spoon, so it is easier to eat in this popular soup!
I have been able to find fideo in the hispanic food aisle of major grocery stores in the US; however, you can substitute spaghetti or angel hair broken into 1-inch pieces if you can’t find fideo. Fideo in Mexico comes in different thicknesses (the higher the number, the thicker the fideo. i.e. size 2 is thicker than 0). I usually use a no. 1 or 2 size fideo, but you can use a thinner pasta if you prefer!
Tips for the BEST Mexican Noodle Soup
Homemade chicken broth
I think homemade chicken broth makes this soup extra special. I usually buy a rotisserie chicken once a week to speed up meal prep. I then simmer the bones in a pot of water, which makes a flavorful broth that I can refrigerate or freeze for future use. In Mexico, it is common to use largos de pollo, which I would describe as the leftover spine piece of a chicken that has been butchered, or chicken feet to make a super flavorful broth. My Mexican sister-in-law’s sopa de fideo literally has chicken feet in it! Chicken feet contain collagen and I find that stocks made with chicken feet can be more gelatinous. If you use chicken feet to make your broth, you may need to add more liquid to compensate.
If you don’t have homemade broth, you can use store-bought packaged or powdered broth as a substitute. I remember my Mexican host mom using Knorr brand powdered broth generously in her dishes to boost flavor. I have found powdered broths to be a bit salty, so I tend to use them sparingly.
Brown the noodles first
To bring flavor to this dish, slightly brown the noodles in oil prior to adding any liquid. I don’t know any Mexican home cook that skips this step! See the nice golden color those noodles are taking on? These can quickly go from golden to burnt, so keep an eye on them and move them often!
Make sure the tomato mixture is super smooth
I have read many recipes that recommend straining the tomato mixture prior to adding it to the noodles. I skip this. I don’t believe that removing this step detracts from the final result. Just make sure that all of the blended ingredients are super smooth and there are no chunks of vegetables that remain prior to adding to the noodles.
Also, definitely make sure that you have the tomato mixture and your additional broth ready to go! Things will move fast once you add the noodles to the oil, so make sure that you have the next steps prepped and ready to avoid burning the noodles!
Recipe adapted from “Traditional Sopa de Fideo” at Mexican Food Journal.
Mexican Noodle Soup (Sopa de Fideo)
- 3 roma tomatoes
- 1/4 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 cups chicken broth homemade or store-bought
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil I use safflower
- 1 package fideo noodles 200g or 7oz, No.1 or 2 size
- 2 tbsp powdered chicken broth optional
- salt to taste
- Blend tomatoes, onions and garlic in blender with 2 cups of chicken broth until fully liquified and smooth
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven
- When the oil is hot, add fideo noodles and stir until noodles are slightly browned, 2-3 minutes
- Add tomato mixture and remaining chicken broth, stirring to blend and loosen noodles
- Turn up heat to medium high and bring to a boil, uncovered
- Once soup is boiling, reduce heat and continue simmering partially covered until noodles are tender, about 8-10 minutes
- Add powdered chicken broth, if deisred, and salt to taste