This is one of those recipes that I like more and more every time I make it. It’s not a coincidence that I first tried it in the fall when the weather began cooling down and warm comfort food was just what we wanted. Plus it’s all made in one pan, so there’s less to clean up!
As you know, even though I own a ton of cookbooks, I rarely end up cooking out of them. However when I was flipping through my copy of Eva’s Kitchen, by Eva Longoria, her recipe for Sopa de Fideo kept catching my eye. It doesn’t hurt that the picture next to the recipe got my stomach rumbling, but as I read it, it just seemed like such a comforting, every-day type of recipe. Which is probably why it took me months to work up the courage to try it. I don’t know, I’m weird like that.
Longoria’s version is a hybrid of the traditionally soupy sopa de fideo and the dry version, fideo seco. The first time I made it, I accidentally doubled the amount of noodles called for and it still turned out fine, which tells me this is a VERY forgiving recipe, which is important when you get easily distracted like me.
Each time I’ve made it, I’ve tweaked it here and there, adding more spices and changing the technique as I go. While she sautes the onion and garlic, then browns the fideo before adding the broth, tomato sauce, spices, and finally adding the chicken before letting it all come to a boil and then simmering, I’ve changed the order so that it’s almost as if I’m making a chicken pullao but with noodles. So I saute the onions and garlic (I also add a bay leaf), then add my spices (I’ve added oregano and hot Mexican-style chili powder) and let the flavors bloom, then I add the chicken, making sure it’s coated with spices, then the fideo, and finally add the broth and tomato sauce before boiling and simmering. Seems like little changes, but I think it changes the flavor.
I’ve made it with drumsticks, bone-in skinless chicken thighs, boneless skinless chicken breast, and boneless skinless chicken thighs and I prefer the boneless skinless thighs. When cooking with bone-in meat I have to cook it for a lot longer to make sure it cooks through, but at the risk of mushy noodles. I really don’t like cooking with boneless skinless chicken breast unless I’m making a stir-fry — it’s so bland and flavorless and if you cook it in something like this it gets tough and stringy.
If you can’t find fideo in the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store, use broken pieces of angel hair or vermicelli. The original recipe calls for ordinary tomato sauce, but I’ve been using a Mexican-style hot tomato sauce – use whatever you want. After doing some online research to see how others make their fideo, I started using Mazola Tomato Bouillon with Chicken to get a more authentic flavor. However, regular chicken broth works just fine.
Anyway, I’ve made this often enough that I almost don’t need a recipe anymore, I know what goes in and how to cook it. It makes a ton of food for Mr. Spice and me, giving us leftovers for a few days even after generous servings the first night. Okay maybe even seconds since we’re piggies. Here’s a link to Longoria’s version of this dish, my version is below.
Adapted from Eva Longoria’s “Sopa de Fideo” recipe in Eva’s Kitchen: Cooking With Love for Family and Friends
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic
1 dried bay leaf
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 to 3-1/2 cups broth made with Mazola tomato bouillon with chicken or regular chicken broth
2 7-ounce cans Mexican hot tomato sauce or regular tomato sauce
2 7-ounce bags fideo noodles or equivalent amount angel hair or vermicelli pasta broken into 3-inch pieces
1 stalk green onion, both white and green parts, sliced
Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium high heat.
Add onions, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until onions begin to soften and slightly brown.
Add dried spices to onion mixture and stir to combine, cooking for a couple minutes.
Add chicken pieces and stir to coat thoroughly with spice and onion mixture. Cook for a few minutes, then add fideo.
Pour the broth and tomato sauce into the pan, stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover with a lid, simmering for about 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. Check periodically to make sure the fideo aren’t sticking to the pan, adding water or broth if necessary, but DON’T stir unless you want mush instead of noodles.
Garnish with sliced green onion and serve.