Our favorite way of preparing angel hair nests is a Mexican dish called "sopa seca de fideo." It's a lot like rice pilaf, but made with thin noodles instead of rice.
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 happy anticipation.
What Does Sopa Seca de Fideo Mean?
The name "sopa seca de fideo" translates to "dry soup with noodles." 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.
What Are Angel Hair Nests?
The dish is made with thin noodles, angel hair pasta or vermicelli. Although it can be made with straight noodles, we always make fideo with the twirled angel hair nests. It’s pretty, easy to cook, and easier to serve that way — one nest, one serving.
Our favorite brand of angel hair nests is De Cecco. They have an 8.8 ounce package that works perfectly for this recipe.
If you can't find angel hair nests at the market, you can make fideo with straight vermicelli pasta. Just break up the pasta in 3 to 4 inch long segments and cook the same way as you would the nests.
How to Make Sopa Seca de Fideo
To make sopa seca de fideo, brown angel hair nests in a hot pan, remove them, simmer tomatoes, onions, and broth, then return the nests to the pan with the broth, cover the pan and let the noodles cook until they've absorbed the liquid in the pan.
Browning the the pasta creates warm nutty flavor notes that you can't get otherwise. It's like toasted versus plain bread.
The trick to a great sopa seca de fideo is the chicken broth. In the hundreds of times we've made this dish over the last fifty years, we've used bouillon (Better than Bouillon), boxed broth, and homemade chicken stock.
While bouillon and the boxes work fine, 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!
What to Serve With Sopa Seca de Fideo
Think of this dish as you would rice pilaf. It goes with almost anything. We serve it alongside steak, pork chops, fried fish, and chicken. Because we make it with chicken stock, it is especially good with fried or roasted chicken dishes. It also works well as a side to classic Mexican dishes, as an alternative to Spanish or Mexican rice.
More Angel Hair Pasta Dishes to Try
- Angel Hair Pasta with Salmon, Arugula, and Creamy Lemon Parmesan Sauce
- Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp
- Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic, Herbs, and Parmesan
- Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce
Sopa Seca de Fideo (Mexican-Style Angel Hair Nests)
- 1/2 pound angel hair nests or vermicelli (vermicelli usually comes in 1 pound packages, so about 1/2 a package)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken broth or stock
- Salt and pepper
Brown the angle hair nests:
Choose a frying pan with a lid in which the angel hair nests will all tightly fit in a single layer (about 9 or 10-inches wide, depending on the brand of angel hair nests you use). In the pan, heat the oil until shimmering hot.
Working in batches, fry the vermicelli angel hair nests on both sides in the hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove from pan.
Sauté tomatoes and onion, add broth:
Add the chopped onions to the pan and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook angel hair nests in simmering broth:
Bring the broth mixture to a simmer. When broth is simmering, place the browned angel hair nests or vermicelli in a single layer in the pan, nestled into the broth. The nests should cover the whole pan. Turn them over in the broth so that they get moistened on all sides.
Cover and cook until the vermicelli has soaked up the liquid, about 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes the top of the vermicelli is dry, flip over the individual angel hair nests and cook a minute longer.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.