Sopa Seca de Fideo

Sopa Seca de Fideo, translated “dry soup with noodles”, is comfort food bar none. It’s not soup, it’s called a “dry soup” because the noodles absorb all of the wonderful rich stock, making the noodles taste more delicious than you can possibly imagine. The dish is made with thin noodles, angel hair pasta or vermicelli. My mother makes this dish at least once a month and we were raised just calling it by the noodle name, vermicelli. All you have to do is say that word and the collective eyes of our family light up with glee.

Although it can be made with straight noodles, we always make fideo with the twirled nests. It’s pretty, and easier to serve that way, one nest, one serving. The dish can be used as an alternative to Spanish Rice in accompanying a meal.

The trick to a great sopa seca de video is the chicken broth. Over the hundreds of times we’ve made this dish over the last fifty years we’ve used bouillon, boxed broth, and homemade chicken stock. While bouillon and the boxes work in a pinch, nothing beats homemade stock for this recipe. It brings a richness that can’t be had any other way. So if you try it, I strongly urge you to use homemade stock!

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Sopa Seca de Fideo Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb vermicelli (angel hair nests). Vermicelli usually comes in 1 lb packages, so about 1/2 a package.
  • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Method

vermicelli-1.jpg
1 In a 9-inch frying pan (with lid), fry the vermicelli on both sides in hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove from pan.

2 In the same oil, brown the minced onion, add the chopped tomato. Add chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3 When broth is boiling, add vermicelli and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the vermicelli has soaked up the liquid, about 30 minutes.

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*My mother pronounces it verm-i-sell-ee, which she says is the Spanish way to pronounce it, and since this is a Spanish dish that's how she pronounces it. The thing is my mom doesn't speak Spanish. So if there are any experts in the Spanish way to pronounce this Italian pasta, please speak up in the comments and let me know.

37 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    This is a dish that I ate a lot in my childhood, and your recipe looks like about what my grandmother uses. Except that she uses a lot of pepper. In my recent recipe work with her, I realized that she basically uses equal amounts of salt and pepper —

    I have finally figured out that “fideo” can mean a lot of things – and people have have varying opinions on how brothy this dish should be. Ours ends up dry like yours.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. James

    fideo is spanish for noodles and that is what you’d call it.

    my father-in-law who is lebanese raised in cuba, makes a dish prepared similar called arroz con fideo. or rice with noodles in which the noodles are fried before they are boiled

  3. Mandingo Jones

    Wow! I love your dish and your blog!

    Here’s anr eccentric comfort food style dish that I love a little bit like yours. It’s called Platillo, and I think it hails from Cuba. I don’t know how authentically Cuban it is, but my mother used to prepare it for me when I was a child and she states that it was eaten in the long lost idyllic Cuba of her past – B.C. – before Castro. It’s a poor person’s dish she said. The first time I ate this dish was in the mid 1970s and my mom prepared it as a late night supper dish.
    I think this dish has Iberian origins where it was cooked with pieces of ham or with seafood. Actually there is a Spanish dish which is called Fideua and it resembles a seafood paella with noodles sans the rice.

    Take some thin egg noodles. They usually come dried in little bundles the size of a palm and they are used in Spanish and Latin American cooking to put in soups. You can buy these in the supermarket and they are usually called fideos in Spanish. Drop the noodles in some boiling water that you have placed a bullion cube, beef or chicken. I prefer to use some good homemade or commercial stock rather than the bullion cube. The noodles cook very fast. When the noodles are done drain them. The noodles should not be too dry – and you should just leave enough stock to keep them moist. Into the noodles add a couple of tablespoons of butter which will melt and start top create a sauce. Finally add a several tablespoons of tomato puree and mix with the noodles, stock, and butter. Garnish with chopped parsley.

    You can also add pieces of crispy bacon or Prosciutto and a grating of parmesan or manchego cheese for an interesting combination. This last part is purely my invention, and it doesn’t really reflect the dish I used to eat as a child.

  4. Elise

    Hi James – sounds good, do they fry the rice as well?

    Hi Mandingo – thanks for the recipe!

  5. Donna

    There are so many wonderful family recipes from long ago which were never written down and no longer exist. My grandmother was from Jamaica and used to make something very much like this which she called Mock Chicken. She was a vegetarian and called the dish by this name, as the flavor was similar to a chicken casserole. But I think somewhere in the process the fideo may have been dipped in beaten egg and/or flour. I would love to recreate this one. Does it sound familiar to you?

  6. Andrea

    Thank you so much! My abuelita makes this for me because I love it so much! She lives 300 miles away from me so I don’t get it very often but now I can make it! Thanks again!

  7. Samantha

    I was looking for simple recipes with few ingredients and this vermicelli was perfect. This one must be impossible to mess up, because I substituted almost everything on the list with whatever I already had on hand, and it was still delicious! (college doesn’t leave much time for grocery-shopping) I used: straight vermicelli, dried minced onion, 1 can italian-style diced tomatoes, and 1 can vegetable broth (I live with a vegan). Even though this is by no means the authentic way of preparing it, I still enjoyed every bite. Thanks!

  8. Kate

    I made this recipe this week, with only one small alteration: I added boneless chopped chicken breast meat so it would have some protein. It was comfort food at its finest. Even the bubbling broth, prior to adding the noodles back in, was delicious, clean tasting and fresh. I’ll use it as a soup base or over pasta, for sure. But this was really really tasty, and so comforting to look at, on a big platter on a cold, cold rainy night in Sacramento. Thank you!

  9. Kate

    Hello Sacramento neighbor, again. Not to be intentionally macabre, but, I have to thank your mother for this recipe. My father died last week, and several days later we realized we really needed to stop and make something to eat. We needed comfort food, fast and easy. I thought of this recipe which I made on a rainy night in January, and came to get it again. It was perfect, just as it is. Even adding meat would have been too heavy. So from my family to yours, thanks again for the recipe, it was incredibly comforting during a horrible week.

  10. Alicia Pope

    Hey, I love vermi-sell-i. That is how I grew up saying it! I speak spanish and my favorite mexican restaurant growing up had the best vermicelli.(they pronounced it like that too) Well thanks for the recipee!!

  11. Daria

    Thank you for this recipe. My mother made something very similar (with the noodles fried) and I loved it. I haven’t had it since I was in middle school and since my mother passed away before I became interested in cooking, I never had a recipe.

    My mother was Tejana (Mexican-Texan) and we called this dish “fideos” or “fideitos” which, I think, was a kid-type nickname (like saying “sghetti” for “spaghetti”).

    I love your site…thank you!

  12. Claudia

    The proper word for vermicelli in Spanish is probably ‘fideo’ (singular) or ‘fideos’ (plural). (We) Hispanics tend to pronounce foreign names exactly as they are written using our own set of phonemes, so it is likely that Hispanics will pronounce this ‘ver-mee-sell-ee’.

    Spaniards also tend to create a Spanish version of each foreign word, and this becomes the only correct, official term. For example, the Royal Spanish Academy only accepts ‘espagueti’ as the correct Spanish word for the Italian ‘spaghetti’. For this reason, I tend to believe that most Hispanics would call them ‘fideos’ rather than ‘vermicelli’.

  13. Lupe

    I made this recipe for dinner tonight, and it was a Hit!! with my husband and my 6 year old (she is a very picky eater). She loved it as much as her daddy.
    I made it with regular vermicelli not the bird’s nest. My mother use to make it when I was younger, but she would make it very soupy and added potatoes to it. I wasn’t a big fan but it was ok. Until I made it tonight, I will be making it again.I made it as a side dish for chicken tacos.

  14. Miriam

    Wow, looks delicious!!
    I don’t know how the rest of the Spanish people would call vermicelli, I say it just like Italians do. What we know as “fideo” is much shorter than vermicelli.
    Anyway, I think I’ve never eaten it this way but looks really great!
    *”Sopa de fideos” is made with that short pasta I mentioned and chicken, ham or vegetable broth, at least that’s how I’ve always eaten it here in Spain ;)
    Cheers!

  15. Jose

    Your recipe looks close to my mom’s except, she uses bacon fat instead of olive oil. I am also Spanish, I’m from New Mexico, my mother ponounces it like the Italians do so that is what I call it. I agree “fideo ” is a smaller noodle and you can mix it with rice for a Spanish rice kinda dish.

  16. nikki jo

    My mom used canned tomato sauce and a tad of garlic when cooking the onion, however she took the onion out because my brother hate them! I love this dish, and plan on making it tonight with some garlic bread and cucumbers!! I’m also from new mexico and we call this dish verm-i-sell-ee also…

  17. SImSabalim

    Here in Canada, I’ve only ever heard it pronounced “verm-i-chell-ee”. This is the first time I’ve heard differently!

    Spain-Spaniards pronounce the soft “c” like “th”: so “vermicelli” would be “verm-i-thell-ee”. (“Princessa” would be “prin-thes-ah”, etc.)

    Mexico-Spaniards pronounce it the same way we do. (“Princessa” is “prin-ses-ah”.)

    Does the dish hail from Spain or Mexico? That would give us an idea of how it was originally pronounced.

  18. musi

    Where do you find the vermicelli in the US? I cannot find them anywhere… Vermicelli are supposed to be made of soy, and the ones I have found have potato starch, which I cannot have.

    If the broth dries out then I am not sure why anyone would call it “sopa de fideos” (noodle soup), but language does these weird things and if you and your family have been calling that all your life why change now :)

    As soon as I find the vermicelli I will try the recipe.

    Look for “angel hair pasta”. Never heard of vermicelli being made of soy. It’s just another wheat-based pasta. Regarding the sopa bit, weird eh? It’s not something particular to our family. This is just the name of the dish. It’s considered a dry soup. ~Elise

  19. nina

    I’m also from New Mexico and my husband is from Texas and both our families pronounce it verm-i-sell-ee. But we call the dish, of short noodles, fideos. The noodles, left long or cut short, are vermicelli noddles but as a dish is called fideos.

    We also leave it a bit more wet. Not so much that you have to use a bowl but almost like a plate of very saucy spaghetti.

  20. howard

    I’m from California, and I’m Chinese, so I never even knew that vermicelli was anything other than an Asian thing. I never even thought about why it was called vermicelli when that’s clearly not the way it’s said in Chinese (and the stuff I’m used to is made from rice). I’ll give this a shot!

    Those Asian thin rice noodles are completely different, and are not vermicelli, which is a wheat pasta. ~Elise

  21. Loli

    Fideo is delicious when mixed into a bowl of frijoles de la olla. (Cooked Pinto Beans from the pot) We also add cilantro and chopped green onion and red pepper flakes. It’s a meal in itself!

  22. Vikki

    I’m from New Zealand and we pronounce vermicelli – verm-i-sell-li however just wanted to write no matter how its pronounced its always delicious…!! Cheers..! Vikki

  23. Asia

    I’m from a Southeast Asian country and have never heard it used in these sort of recipes. Rice vermicelli noodles are very popular in this part of the country. It is pronounced ver-muh-CHELL-lee. I will try your mother’s dish and you should look up some Asian recipes and see if you like it that way as well. Enjoy!

  24. anon

    One of the above responses is a bit misleading. “vermicelli”(which literally means little worms) refers to thin, stringy pasta noodles, and not necessarily a wheat-based one. So, actually, Asian rice vermicelli is indeed vermicelli.

  25. Stacy

    My mother taught me to make this very similar fideo dish. I put crushed garlic, cumin and tomato sauce in the chicken broth, fry the vermicelli until golden brown but don’t remove it from the pan, add chopped onion and jalapeno and saute, add the chicken broth mixture and cook down until the vermicelli is tender but still soupy, add a fresh chopped tomato at the end and top with cilantro. You can also add salad shrimp, or regular prawns for protien. When I made this for my friends they loved it and now they ask for “Mexi Sghetti” all the time.

  26. lola

    I’m Spanish and I hope to contribute although I think it has been rather clear. Vermicelli is the italian word and it refers to wheat-based pasta and it’s pronounced with the chee sound. If an Spaniard would pronounce the word “Vermicelli” it would sound like described so well before:

    “Spain-Spaniards pronounce the soft “c” like “th”: so “vermicelli” would be “verm-i-thell-ee”. (“Princessa” would be “prin-thes-ah”, etc.)

    Mexico-Spaniards pronounce it the same way we do. (“Princessa” is “prin-ses-ah”.)”

    Italian pasta comes, naturally, from China as Marco Polo brought the recipe from his trips in the Silk Route. Venetians did not have rice but plenty of cereal so they adapted it.
    One of the traditional staples for family first course in Spain is: “sopa de fideos” wich is supossed to be made with chicken bones and vegetables boiled for a long time together and if you have at hand some jamon’s bone (Spanish prosciutto) much better ;-). The fideos (vermicelli) must be floating free and gaily on the broth.
    Another dish absolutely different is the “fideua”, typical from the east (Catalonia, Valencia, Alicante, the Islands of Mallorca, Menorca.. ). It’s done with special fat and short pasta and it’s not soupy but dry and when it’s well done it’s delicious

  27. Krista

    My mother’s side of the family is Spanish and Mexican so as a kid I ate this a lot. Your recipe is spot on with the way my Grandpa use to make it. Everyone’s recipe will vary, depending on if you like yours with more broth in which it’s called “sopa” or dry. Thank you so much for posting this though!

  28. Jennifer

    Jumping the gun, I followed this recipe using the Asian variety of ‘vermicelli’ (that is what it’s referred to in Vietnamese restaurants) before reading the comments. It actually turned out really well, but for next time I’ll to try it again with the wheat variety. Curious about how the tastes will compare…

  29. joe sciumbato

    My family is Italian and we pronounced like you did. But I live in Mexico now and even though have never seen vermicelli made here, the noodles are called fideo.
    My mom used a lot of garlic in oil to start with, then browned noodles then added tomatos onion and chicken broth and cooked slow till absorbed… mmmm good

  30. Tauni

    Elise, I made your vermicelli tonight, and it was fantastic. I followed your recipe exactly and used it as a bed for my roasted halibut with white wine & walnut pesto. (I also added some of the pesto to the broth as the noodles were cooking) Maybe inspired by your dad’s fish stew? Amazing dinner! thank you!

  31. Maricela

    I am from Guadalajara, Mexico. I love your recipe. My mom used to make “sopa de fideo” very often and I love it!

    In Mexico we have “dry” soup like rice, fideos or tortilla soup or “wet” soup like tortilla or fideos soup made with more broth. I guess this is just a cultural thing.

  32. Ana

    I started making this a few months back and my family LOVES it — we never have any leftovers! Very yummy.

  33. Lulu

    I just made this last night. Delicious!
    For some reason, I needed a lot more broth. I had defrosted 2 1/2 cups of homemade for this recipe, but ended up having to open my emergency boxed broth to add, as it was drying up fast. My pan was covered and my flame was low, so I don’t know why. The noodles were also cooked in just about 20 minutes.
    In any case, this is a great quick and easy recipe and I’ll definitely make it again. Love the toasty flavor of the fried noodles. I can see throwing some vegetables in too, so I think this would be a good one for using up veggies from the fridge.
    A definite keeper, thank you!

  34. Julie

    I tried this recipe exactly as written (several times) but I could never get it to work to my satisfaction. It was easy to get the nests too brown. Then once they were in the liquid stage, I never managed to get the tops of the nests to be properly cooked – they always stuck out of the liquid too much. I don’t know if my pam was too big or I just needed a lot more liquid. However, I did like the taste of the bits that were done. So I started making the recipe using little 7oz bags of broken vermicelli that I can get at my local market. Since I started doing this, it has made a steady rotation in my house.

  35. Lisa

    I’m not a big pasta fan, but I love this dish! Yummy!

  36. Linda

    I just purchased a case of 1 pound each of the ”Coil Vermicelli Fideo”…….this is the product I was introduced to originally by a gal who prepared this with rice (browing both together before adding any liquid) and she said it is a Lebanese way (?). I’ve loved it ever since and make it frequently.

    I purchased the case of this so I can make lots of Vermicelli recipes, love the site.

  37. Danielle

    ”Your mother pronounces it verm-i-sell-ee, which she says is the Spanish way to pronounce it.”

    To confuse things a little bit more, in French it is spelled vermicelle and is pronounced verm-i-sel, the ‘e’ at the end is not pronounced.

    Love your recipes!

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