Growing up there are those signature dishes that your family goes to regularly. They’re usually easy dishes that everyone can agree on, and, inevitably, those become the dishes that you associate with being a kid. For me, that’s an easy Mexican soup called Conchas, or Sopa de Conchas. The spices and ingredients are used in many Mexican dishes, so the flavor brings back so many fond memories. I remember my mom making this with her apron on, sipping the broth for flavor on a teaspoon. She would usually ask us to try it out, so that we could weigh-in on whether it needed more of this or that. Honestly, I was just in it for the experience. Sometimes I would comment that it needed more pepper, and my mom would dutifully add more pepper. This led to another tasting, which was really all that I was interested in.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind when talking about recipes with my family is that they never actually know the recipe. Sure, you can get the list of ingredients, but Heaven help you if you need an exact measurement. When I asked my mom for this recipe, she told me it was just by taste. After years of taking sips from a teaspoon, I knew what taste I was going for, but how was that going to help anyone who didn’t grow up with years of sipping experience? When I said that I needed something a little more specific, she made a tight cup with her hand and said that some one spice filled about that much space in her hand, and that another spice fit a more open version of her cupped hand. Yeah, that’s not going to work.
This brought Lola and I into the kitchen to figure out how these spices measured out. We approached it by measuring everything out a quarter teaspoon, or a cup, at a time. Making Conchas took a little longer that day, but it left me with a recipe that I can hand down to my kids. That’s really what it’s all about.
Sopa de Conchas
2 TB vegetable oil
16 oz small or medium pasta shells
½ tsp pepper
1 TB cumin
12 c. hot water
7 cubes of Knorr chicken bouillion
15 oz tomato sauce
¼ garlic powder
dash of oregano
flour tortillas (optional)
lemon wedges (optional)
1.) In a large pot, warm oil and add pasta shells. Brown pasta until most of the shell is covered with brown and white sear marks. Mix occasionally to avoid burning.
2.) Set side chicken bouillon, but add all other dry ingredients and cook for 2 minutes. Mixing occasionally.
3.) Add tomato sauce, water, chicken bouillon and water. Stir and bring to a boil.
4.) Continue cooking pasta for as long as box of pasta recommends, or until pasta is cooked through.
5.) Serve with tortillas and top with fresh lemon juice.
I hope that you enjoy this childhood favorite!