Even as adults, we still enjoy certain foods that remind us of our childhood. When I was a kid, I enjoyed Mom’s warm sopa(pasta) dishes prepared with fideo, estrellitas, moñitos or coditos(vermicelli, star, bows or elbow pasta). Now and then we enjoyed the popular canned varieties, such as chicken and stars. This is my version of Estrellitas Con Pollo(chicken and stars) with Mexican flavors. There are many variations you can prepare a sopa dish. Add shrimp instead of chicken for the seafood lover in you. Or add your favorite thinly sliced vegetables instead of meat for a meatless option. The key to this tasty sopa, for me, is the freshly blended tomato and lime(or lemon) juice added to the broth. It adds that perfect amount of acidity that will make you want a second bowl.
Estrellitas Con Pollo
Yields 6 Servings
1 cup estrellitas(stars) pasta
1/2 white onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, fresno or serrano, sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced thin
2- cups finely shredded(cooked) chicken( a roasted chicken from the market works well for this recipe)
4 large roma tomatoes, quartered
3 to 4 cups water, chicken stock or broth
5 teaspoons of Knorr “caldo de pollo” bouillon, if using water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
Juice of 2 limes or lemons
Handful of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
Tips~ I prefer toasting the pasta separately,then adding it to the simmering broth. This way you don’t overcook the pasta and the tomato has a few extra minutes to cook.
1. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Turn to medium heat and add the pasta. When the pasta begins to toast, stir often, so it does not burn. It’s ok to have some light brown spots. Once toasted, transfer pasta to a bowl and set aside.
2. In that same skillet, add the onions, garlic and chile. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
3. While the vegetables saute, add the roma tomatoes to the blender. Add 1 cup of water, cover and blend on high until smooth. Add tomato sauce to the skillet and all remaining ingredients, minus the pasta and cilantro.
4. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. This will allow the raw flavors of the tomato to cook out a little before adding the pasta.
5. While the broth is simmering, add in the pasta and gently stir to combine. Cover and continue cooking at a low simmer for 7 -8 minutes or just until pasta is cooked. Remove form heat. Fold in the cilantro before serving. Ladle into bowls and garnish with slices of fresh lemon or lime and avocado. Make it even more tasty by adding a ladle full of freshly cooked frijoles de olla(pinto beans) for a hearty meal. Yields 6 servings.
Tips~ For an extra tomato flavor, you could add 2 full tablespoons of tomato paste to the simmering broth before adding in the pasta.
Tips~ For the most most flavorful chicken and broth, I cooked 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs in my pressure cooker. Seasoned with my favorite carne asada seasoning, 5 cups of water, onion, garlic and chile serrano. Cook for 40 minutes once it comes up to pressure. The best! Fall apart chicken!
This again, is a great make ahead recipe. The flavors only improve after a few days!
I really do enjoy almost any version of “Sopa”. My favorite version these days is the version below with a richer tomato base and the added smokiness of chipotle peppers!
Sopa de Moñitos Con Chipotle (Mini Bows Pasta In a Tomato Chipotle Broth)
Yields 6 Servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup mini bows, alphabets or stars pasta
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. tomato paste
1-2 chipotles en adobo, finely minced
5 cups water
2 cubes caldo de pollo/tomato flavor
Juice of 1small lemon
1/3 teaspoon mexican oregano, crushed
1/3 teaspoon cumin
Fresh cilantro or parsely, chopped for garnish
1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet and heat to medium. Add the pasta and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until it begins to toast. Using a slotted spoon, remove pasta from the skillet and transfer onto plate. Set aside.
2. Add 1/2 tablespoon more of oil to the skillet and place back on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and bell pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste and chipotles and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring as needed.
3. Stir in the water(or broth) and caldo de pollo, chicken/tomato bouillon. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the pasta back in along with the lemon juice, oregano and cumin. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover and cook at a medium/low heat for 6-9 minutes or until pasta is fully cooked. Remove from heat. Serve right away if you like your sopa a little more soupy. The longer it sits, the more it will absorb the broth. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.