Sopa Criolla (pronounced: soh-PAH-kdee-OL-yah, the capital letters meaning stressed syllables, literally: “Creole soup”) is a very popular soup in Peru. You can find it in almost every restaurant and hotel, and it is one of the most tasty Peruvian dishes. I introduced it in my Peru blog post (I still haven’t finished that post but I will soon!). The pictures below are from some of the restaurants I ate in Peru. As you can see, there are some small variations in the soups.
This soup is made from basic ingredients and is very, very delicious. The stars of the soup are the ground beef (in Peru, diced beef is often used, but ground beef is easier to use and I prefer its texture more), angel hair pasta, fried or poached egg on top, and delicious broth. The broth is flavored with ají panca, a type of chili pepper used in Peruvian cuisine that also gives the soup a red color. You can find ají panca paste in a Latin American market. It is easier to find in a Peruvian market, but there aren’t that many here. The paste is sold in small glass jars like this:
If you cannot find it, you can leave it out, but it is not traditional to do so. The other flavorings of the soup include onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. The optional ingredients are the tomato (fresh or paste) and evaporated milk or cream. Some people do not add them because they used to not be added. However, in Peru, every restaurant I have seen adds these ingredients into the soup. You can use one of these ingredients, both, or none, as it is your preference. I do not add the evaporated milk because my family does not prefer it. Another optional ingredient is to garnish the soup with a slice of toasted bread or croutons. Actually I never saw this in the restaurants I ate in Peru, so it is optional (most recipes online include it), but if you have bread, it would taste good this way.
Adapted from Peru Delights and LimaEasy
Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)
2 tbsp cooking oil
250g (about 1/2 lb) ground beef, or beef cut into small cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tsp ají panca paste (depending on how spicy you want it; Peruvian food is only faintly spicy anyways)
1-2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp dry oregano
1 liter (4 cups) beef stock or water, you could also use chicken stock if you want
3-4 oz angel hair pasta
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream (if cream, use less) (optional)
2-4 eggs (however much you want)
2-4 slices white bread (optional)
1. Heat oil in a pot.
2. Add beef, salt and pepper. Cook, crumble the beef until it is cooked.
3. Add onion and garlic and ají panca paste, saute a few minutes until onion is translucent and softened.
4. Add oregano and tomato paste, saute 2 more minutes.
5. Add stock or water. Traditionally this liquid is boiled in another pot and then added, but I’m not sure why. I just add room temperature liquid instead.
6. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low or low heat.
7. Meanwhile, you can prepare the bread if using. For croutons, cut 2 slices into cubes and mix with a little oil, then toast in a pan until golden. For whole slices, brush with a little oil and toast both sides in a pan until golden.
8. Also, if you wish to have fried eggs in the soup, cook the eggs in a little oil in a pan. You may also poach the eggs, directions in the next step.
9. Add angel hair pasta and stir. If poaching eggs, add the eggs right after the pasta is added. Simmer 3-5 more minutes or however long it takes to become al dente.
10. Turn off the heat. Add the evaporated milk or cream, and stir to mix. Be careful so it doesn’t curdle. Make sure the heat is off because if it boils, it will curdle!
11. Serve the soup in bowls, with egg and bread on top. Optionally garnish with a little parsley if you like.