Is Sopa Criolla and Sopa a la Minuta the same soup? Or two different soups with the same base? As even Peruvian chefs seem unable to agree on this topic, we couldn't find out and really don't want to be caught in the middle. Fact is that this Peruvian classic was brought to Peru by Italian immigrants and is one of these Peruvian comfort foods that just makes us feel home, warms us on cold and cloudy days, nourishes and revitalizes us and has the power to make everything better.
And the good thing: as the name of this hearty Peruvian beef and noodle soup already suggests, it can be easily prepared in no time with readily available ingredients: beef meat, stock, aji panca, onions, garlic, angel hair pasta, white bread and eggs. If tomatoes, tomato paste and evaporated milk belong on the ingredient list for Sopa Criolla or Sopa a la Minuta or even both, well this is the parting of the ways...
Some tips before you start cooking
Below, find the easy to prepare recipe for this absolutely delicious and hearty soup. If you are looking for the authentic Peruvian flavor, don't substitute the aji panca paste, which gives the soup its characteristic red color and a distinctive nice spiciness, with another chili paste. Today you can find aji panca paste or powder at many Latin America Food stores, even online for just a few well-spent dollars.
And please go easy on the aji panca paste. The recommended 1 teaspoon should give the soup the right, still enjoyable medium heat and a nice spiciness. Additionally, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of evaporated milk in my soup and either substitute it with cream or just leave it out.
And what makes Peruvian Sopa a la Minuta even more delicious are the home-made croutons. Don’t worry, really easy to make and prepared in five minutes while the soup is simmering.
LimaEasy's Recipe for Sopa a la Criolla
Ingredients for the soup
- 250 g (0.5 lb) flank steak or ground beef
- 1/2 onion
- 1 glove garlic
- 1 tsp aji panca paste (or powder)
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 l (4 cups) beef or vegetable stock
- 1 big potato
- 80 g (3 oz) angel hair pasta or spaghetti
- 4 Tbsp evaporated milk or cream
- 3 eggs
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper
Ingredients for the croutons:
- 2 slices white bread
- garlic salt
- dried oregano
- olive oil
- Cut the beef into very small pieces (or use ground beef), chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic, peel and cube the potato. Prepare the stock, so it's hot when you need it in just a few minutes.
- Heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add beef and let brown. Salt and pepper the meat. Then add the aji panca paste or powder, the onion and the garlic. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the oregano and stir for another 2 minutes. Now pour the prepared stock into the saucepan. Then add the potato cubes. Reduce heat, put the lid on, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, prepare the croutons. Cut the white bread in little squares and sprinkle some olive oil, garlic salt and dried oregano on top. Mix with your hands. Heat a skillet and brown the bread cubes from both sides. Set the croutons aside.
- Back to the soup: Add the angel hair pasta or spaghetti to the soup and let cook until al dente (about 3 minutes). Then break in the eggs, stir once or twice and allow the yolks to set. Turn off the heat. Incorporate the milk or cream. If necessary, adjust seasoning.
- Fill the hearty soup into cups, sprinkle with croutons and serve immediately.