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Recipe: Fideo Soup

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I was first introduced to fideo, a brothy Mexican vermicelli soup, at the Mexican-Asian Boa on West 32nd. That was a couple weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that soul-warming soup since. A Google search turned up dozens of recipes–most one-offs from a dish passed down through the ages–and they were based, give or take, on similar ingredients.

Rather than arbitrarily selecting one, I dug through old copies of Saveur magazine and came across a story about Josefina Velázquez de León, largely considered the Julia Child of Mexico, that included a recipe for fideo. The soup is simple enough and the results are cozy–like a Mexican ramen. But if you don’t feel like cooking, order fideo at Boa or Tambien.

Boa on West 32nd, 3464 W. 32nd Ave., 303-484-9628; Tambien, 250 Steele St., 303-333-1763

Sopa de Fideo (from Saveur, December 2005 issue)
(serves 4-6)

Fideo (or fideos) noodles are very thin and short enough to fit into a soup spoon. Vermicelli pasta may be substituted.

1 ripe tomato, cored and halved crosswise
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons lard (chicken fat or vegetable oil can be substituted)
1 cup 1-inch fideo noodles or vermicelli (broken into pieces approximately 1-inch in length)
8 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh parsley (fresh cilantro can be substituted)
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces queso fresco or dried pressed farmers’ cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375°. Roast tomatoes, cut side up, in a small roasting pan in oven until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a blender. Add onions and garlic, and puree until mixture is a smooth, loose paste. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the liquid, and set tomato mixture aside.

Heat lard in a heavy medium pot over medium-high heat. Add noodles and fry, stirring frequently, until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer noodles with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.

Carefully add tomato mixture to remaining lard in pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in toasted noodles, stock, and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer soup for 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Remove and discard parsley sprig from pot. Serve soup garnished with crumbled cheese, if you like.

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