Recipe: Sopa Criolla

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)

Directions:

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.

Enjoy! 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Recipe: Sopa Criolla

  1. well that seemed to be a simple recipe.
    did you buy the paste in Peru or actually find it in CA? looking forward to your Peru travel blog. take your time and rest your fingers :))

    1. I bought it in CA! It was at the Indian-MidEastern-Mexican/Latino-Asian grocery store I shop at 🙂 but sort of expensive, $3.50 for the small jar.
      Hope you enjoy the soup you try it since it’s very good 🙂

    2. WordPress on iPhone is too glitchy to work, since it’s impossible to type anything, and it’s impossible backspace anything either! 😦
      That means for the Peru post I have to add the pix on the PC, so I must transfer them and all. Sorry 😦
      So it will take longer to complete. I will try to get it done by the end of this week!
      Meanwhile I may post some shorter recipe posts that I can just write in Notes and paste them onto WordPress 🙂
      PS I also wrote a pretty detailed email about the singers Annabel and Nagi, but it failed to send. Oh well. I have it saved so I’ll try later 🙂
      Have a great week!

  2. so what’s with WordPress?!?! we both can’t be individually be having problems on WordPress. so I will guess something is going on with WP.
    but wait!! you can’t send the emails?
    Thank You for your efforts Link!!
    Have a great week also!!

  3. QUESTION: In your Asian cuisine books. are there sections about sauces? maybe variations of sauce mixes for stirfry. do you change up sauces for same main ingredient dishes?

    1. Asian cuisine and western cuisine are really different, hehe. In French cuisine and other western cuisines, there are set types of sauces, like hollandaise, etc. It is not the case in Asian cuisines. In Asian cuisines, every dish has a different sauce. The sauces in mapo tofu, homestyle tofu, fish fragrant tofu, and sweet and sour tofu, would be different from those in spicy numbing eggplant, homestyle eggplant, fish fragrant eggplant, and sweet and sour eggplant, to match the different ingredients. That said, they would have similarities. Sichuan cuisine has over 20 “flavor styles”. 4 of them are spicy-numbing, home-style, fish-fragrant, and sweet-sour. Spicy numbing makes use of chilies and Sichuan pepper, plus other complementary ingredients. Home-style makes use of Pi County fava bean chili paste, ginger, garlic, and green onion. Fish-fragrant makes use of pickled chilies, ginger, garlic, and green onion, with a hint of sweet-sour too. Sweet-sour uses sugar and vinegar and other ingredients that complement the flavor. Other flavor styles include strange-flavor, fragrant-spicy, and more. In other Asian cuisines, there is even less of set types of sauces.
      Hope this helps because I think this is what you were asking. If it was different, I can answer more 🙂

      1. This helps a lot. yes. western and Most all Europeans have their set sauce ingredients. I don’t believe that Asian cuisine has the same.
        My scenario is I love Stirfry and I have and use my basic SAME ingredients. Tofu, mushrooms, squash, cabbage. and if I’m really hungry, I’ll add chicken thighs :). I don’t want to change my ingredients so I though changing the sauce would give me a variation. THANKS FOR THE INPUT. it gives me some idea of what a add or change. sometime just a small change can make a difference.

      2. Thank you! 😀
        Stir-frying the Chinese way is really easy. In Chinese homes worldwide, most foods made are stir-fries made up on the spot with no recipes. Just stir-fry the ingredients in oil until almost cooked, then add seasonings until cooked. Really easy! Use many combinations of Chinese ingredients like in my “Chinese pantry” post. An interesting way to make things spicy is to fry Pi County fava bean chili paste in oil before the garlic-ginger (if using). It does have a strong flavor that can overpower a lot though. Only use 1/2 tbsp or so, because of this. It’s also very salty so keep that in mind. When I cook Chinese food that uses fermented sauces I almost never add actual salt since it doesn’t need any. Another interesting addition is sweet flour sauce (tian mian jiang) or Hoisin sauce (almost the same) to add a slightly sweet and unique tasty flavor. I’m not sure what is in your “sauce” right now. If you don’t mind, you can share so I can give you more suggestions for variation 🙂
        You’re welcome! Enjoy! 😀

      3. Those last two ingredients ARE what I use for my main ingredient sauces. Also I use tian mian jiang when I want another taste. a lot will depend on the veggies I use and I will add a thickener.
        This western palate of mine probably would not like sour type sauces much but yet a sweet n sour is fine. Thanks for your info. what you’ve provided is an inspiration to consider other tastes.
        Have a great day.

      4. Cool! Were you inspired by the twice cooked pork recipe? Hehe, those are the main ingredients for that dish, REALLY good 😀
        If the ingredients release a lot of water, it is a good idea to thicken with the corn starch and water. Be careful not to make the sauce gloppy though. In Chinese stir-fries the sauce should thicken and make it shiny but not gloppy 🙂
        Don’t worry, Chinese “sour” dishes are not NEARLY as sour as Indian and Southeast Asian sour dishes that use tons of tamarind like rasam. Most Chinese dishes with a “sour” flavor use 1 tbsp or less of Chinkiang vinegar, which doesn’t add a ver sour flavor as it is balanced by chilies and sugar. So it just creates a hint of sourness in the background, for example in authentic Kung Pao Chicken.
        You’re welcome! Have a great day too 😀

      5. First new recipe in a really long time! WordPress app is still really glitchy in the iPhone, so it’s easiest to make really short recipes like this. If you like tianmianjiang (sweet flour paste) and noodles, you will love it! Enjoy! 😀

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