Simple Pasta Soup (Sopa Aguada)

Mexican pasta soup
Fragrant, tomatoey classic Mexican pasta soup. Photo (c) Robin Grose
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
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This soup’s name in Spanish means liquid soup, which sounds strange to our English-speaking ears because—after all—isn’t all soup liquid? In Mexico, it’s not! The term sopa there doesn’t necessarily denote a brothy dish; it can just as often refer to the course that a dish is served in. The soup course in a dinner (even an everyday one at home) can be composed of a brothy soup and/or a moderate portion of a (non-liquid) rice or pasta dish.

Be that as it may, this dish is a major Mexican comfort food prepared is most every home all over the country. It is almost always served in bowls as a meal’s opening dish—sometimes as often as several days a week—and it’s often the first thing a Mexican young person will learn to cook. The ingredients are so simple and ordinary that one wouldn’t expect anything special to come out of them, but this humble soup is fragrant and comforting like no other. 

What You'll Need

  • 2 ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 (14.5 ounces / 21 grams) can of chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ of a medium onion
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons pork lard or vegetable oil
  • 1 (7 ounces / 200 grams) package of small pasta (angel hair, alphabet, or similar)
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) chicken broth (homemade, from a jar, or made with bouillon cubes/paste/powder)
  • 3 Mexican limes, halved

How to Make It

  1. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt into a blender and process well.

  2. Heat the lard or oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Pour the pasta directly from its packaging into the hot fat. If the pasta is long, break it up somewhat with your hands as you are doing this.

  3. Fry the pasta, stirring continuously, until most of it has turned light brown in color. It’s very easy to burn pasta - which is something we definitely don’t want to do here – so make sure you are giving it your full attention during this step.

  1. Add the chicken broth and tomato mixture and allow your soup to boil gently for 15 or 20 minutes.

  2. Taste your “liquid soup” and add salt, if necessary. Serve in bowls. Provide lime halves so that eat person can squeeze juice to taste into his or her bowl.

Variations on Pasta Soup

Add chopped vegetables (carrots, squash, celery, turnips, corn, peas, green beans, cabbage, etc.) to this soup to make it a little heartier and more nutritious. Or make tiny little meatballs and add those—just a few if you plan to use the soup as a starter or light dish, many meatballs and some veggies to make it the main course.