Sopa De Conchas (Mexican Shell Soup)

Sopa de Conchas (Mexican shell soup) is a classic and comforting soup made with pasta simmered in a light tomato sauce. This recipe is so simple to make and perfect for a quick meal because it only takes 15 minutes to prepare!

Sopa de conchas in a white bowl.

About The Recipe

Sopa de conchas is a Mexican soup made with shell pasta cooked in a light tomato sauce which is made with chicken or vegetable broth.

This type of tomato sauce is sometimes called recaudo and is a basic preparation for many other Mexican dishes.

It’s pretty common to add also some seasonings like chicken bouillon but besides that, the sauce is mainly made of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sometimes a fresh herb like cilantro or epazote.

The recipe can be found also with other names such as sopa de conchitas or sopa aguada as it belongs to the category of brothy soups, such as sopa de fideo.

Conchitas soup have also some variations in the traditional recipe. It can be made simple or it can be prepared with meat, vegetables, or a mix of both.

It is a quick and budget-friendly recipe that you will find often served as a first course in many home restaurants (fonditas) around the country.

Mexican shell soup, aka sopa de conchas served in two bowls, with some lime wedges on the side.

Ingredients

  • CONCHITAS PASTA: Also known as shell pasta, you will need the tinny format.
  • TOMATOES: Use fresh tomatoes or sub with canned tomato sauce.
  • ONIONS: White or yellow onions are good for this recipe.
  • VEGETABLES: I used carrots, zucchini, and peas.
  • CILANTRO: Use fresh cilantro or dried cilantro, whatever is available to you.
  • GARLIC: For some flavor, use a clove blended into the sauce or use about 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic.
  • STOCK: Use chicken stock or vegetable stock.
  • OIL: You can use olive oil or your favorite vegetable oil.
  • SAL: Any type of salt.

How To Make Sopa de Conchas

Wash, peel, and cut the vegetables you’d like to add. I used fresh carrots and zucchini, and some frozen peas.

Zucchini, carrots, and peas in a white bowl ready to make sopa de conchas.

Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic into a blender. Add one cup of water and blend until you will have a smooth sauce. Set aside.

The recaudo sauce for sopa in a blender.

In a medium soup pot heat a good amount of canola oil over medium heat.

Fry the shell pasta while stirring constantly for about half a minute or until nicely golden.

Frying shell pasta in a pot to make conchitas soup.

Drain pasta using a wire colander to get rid of all oil. Set aside.

In the same pot where you fried the pasta add the tomato sauce, vegetables, and cilantro/epazote. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Sopa de conchas being made in a pot.

As soon as it starts to boil, add the shell pasta and season with salt.

Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are well cooked.

Showing cooked sopa de conchas with a spoon.

Adjust salt to taste and serve sopa de conchitas immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • This is a brothy soup, so don’t be scared by the amount of stock needed in the recipe.
  • I suggest cutting the vegetables into small pieces so they will cook quickly and evenly with the pasta.
  • If you like spicy food, pinch a jalapeño or serrano pepper with a fork, then slightly fry it before frying the pasta. Return the pepper to the pot when you add the vegetables to cook it too.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of chipotle or guajillo powder to the tomato sauce for a smoky flavor kick.
  • If you want a healthier version do not fry the shell pasta, add it once the sauce starts to boil. It changes the texture and the taste a bit, but definitely, you’ll leave out a lot of calories!
  • For a vegan version, you can replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and load your Mexican shell soup with your favorite vegetables like green beans, celery, potatoes, and even spinach.

How To Serve Mexican Shell Pasta Soup

You can eat this shell pasta soup with a dollop of Mexican crema or sour cream, a bit of queso fresco sprinkled on top, maybe a few slices of avocado, and of course, a good squeeze of lime is a must.

Many Mexicans (including myself) love to eat conchitas soup with pickled chiles jalapeños, the sour and tangy touch is something you should really try at least once!

A close-up on Mexican shell soup, aka sopa de conchitas.

How To Store And Reheat

Once your Mexican shell soup cools down, place the leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Since pasta absorbs liquids after sitting for a while, it won’t have the same consistency later, but it will be delicious anyway.

Sopa de conchitas leftovers in a glass airtight container.

Reheat your sopa de conchas over medium heat on the stove or use the microwave in 1-minute intervals until heated up.

FAQ

Is this soup spicy?

No. The recipe doesn’t contain any chilies on it. However, if you like spicy food, read the notes where I tell you how to add some heat to sopa de conchas.

Can I add some spices?

Yes! A pinch of cumin, some Mexican oregano, fresh or dried epazote, and cilantro are all good additions to this shell soup.

Where can I buy conchitas pasta?

You can find conchitas pasta at Mexican stores (local and online), and some supermarkets also sell it in their international aisles.

Can I sub conchitas with macaroni pasta?

Yes, you can! Just make sure to add enough oil to fry the pasta, then you can drain it as suggested in the recipe.

What to do with the oil leftovers?

Use it in other recipes. As long as you don’t heat it to the point where it smokes, the oil can be re-used in other preparations.

What other vegetables can I add?

Any type of summer/winter squash, chayotes, leeks, celery, or cabbages are also lovely and healthy options for this shell soup.

Watch How To Make It

Sopa de conchas (Mexican shell soup)

author Maricruz
2 servings
Sopa de conchas (shell soup) is a classic Mexican soup made with pasta and tomato sauce. This soup is very appreciated by kids and grown-ups and you’ll find it almost at every fonda (small restaurant) around the country.
prep 7 minutes
cook 8 minutes
total 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ⅓ cup shell pasta
  • 2 small fresh tomatoes (cut in chunks)
  • 3 oz white onions (cut in quarters)
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)
  • cilantro sprigs (a few)
  • 1 small carrot (cut into small bites)
  • 1 small zucchini (cut into small bites)
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • canola oil
  • salt

Instructions
 

  • Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic into a blender. Add one cup of chicken stock and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
  • In a medium soup pot heat a good amount of canola oil over medium heat.
  • Fry the shell pasta for about half a minute or until golden and crispy.
  • Drain pasta to remove all excess oil.
  • In the same pot where you fried pasta, add the tomato sauce.
  • Add the zucchini, carrots, peas, and cilantro sprigs.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Return pasta to the pot and season with salt.
  • Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are well cooked.
  • Turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Notes

  • I suggest cutting the vegetables into small pieces so they will cook quickly and evenly with the pasta.
  • If you want some spicy, pinch a jalapeño or serrano pepper with a fork, then slightly fry it before frying the pasta. Return the pepper to the pot when you add the vegetables to cook it too.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of chipotle or guajillo powder to the tomato sauce for a smoky and spicy kick.
  • If you want a healthier version do not fry the shell pasta, add it once the sauce starts to boil. It changes the texture and the taste a bit, but definitely, you’ll leave out a lot of calories!
  • For a vegan version, you can replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and load your Mexican shell soup with your favorite vegetables like green beans, celery, potatoes, and even spinach.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 1346mg | Potassium: 1280mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 6328IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 3mg
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A small stockpot and two bowls with sopa de conchas on a white background. Lime wedges on a bowl on the side.

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This Mexican soup is new to me, but I love how simple it is. It is a perfect meatless Monday dish for the winter season. thanks for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    This soup looks amazing! I plan to make more soup this season because it is usually cost-effective, easy, and can feed many people. I can’t wait to try this one.