Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 18

Gapers Block

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There are two things that every good Mexican cook must know how to make. One of them is rice and the other is sopa de fideo. If you didn't have a decent recipe for either of these, you may as well call it a day. My mother is a bit of a nonconformist in that she is a Mexican woman who does not cook. Seriously, my sisters and I grew up without any heirloom recipes being hand down from generations past; as teenagers, we got our mad cooking skills from the "Kraft Institute," macaroni and cheese from a blue box being our specialty. That being said, she did teach us how to make some kickass rice and sopa de fideo, which our kids now enjoy.

Every culture has its own comfort food, one that it calls upon when they are feeling blue, ill or just missing its childhood. For us, sopa de fideo is definitely one of those foods. A noodle soup with a rich tomato-based broth, sopa de fideo was what my mom would make for me whenever I wanted a special something or was feeling under the weather. Variations of this basic noodle soup are enjoyed throughout the Latino world, and everyone has their own special touches: some make the fideo with chicken, others with beans and the personalization of their sopa goes right down to the noodle. Traditional sopa de fideo calls for vermicelli noodles but stars, alphabets, rings and a myriad of other shapes — sold by companies like Chicago's, La Preferida, Goya and more — end up in people's sopa.

Recently, my son had a bad cold that refused to go away. While he ignored his usual food favorites, not even a fever of 101 would keep him away from his sopa de fideo. Forget that "feed a cold, starve a fever" crap! Here is a soup that fills your pansa with happy, happy, joy, joy and will instantly make you feel better. What's really great about this dish is that you can have a savory, homemade soup in your kitchen ready to eat in under half-an-hour. Kids love it and you will, too.

Vincent's Favorite Sopa de Fideo

1 10 oz. package of fideo in nests (or any other Mexican pasta shape)
1/2 can of La Preferida, Goya or La Espaola tomato sauce
Chicken or vegetable stock (If you are feeling ambitious, you can make your own stock)
A couple sprigs of cilantro
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Salt to taste (optional)

Heat oil in a saucepan or frying pan. On low heat, fry the noodles until golden brown. The noodles will burn quickly, so be mindful of the color. Once they are browned, add the half can of tomato sauce, stir and fry for about one minute.

Add enough stock to cover the noodles, drop in the cilantro, salt to taste and stir.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the noodles are soft (about 10 minutes), making sure you stir them at least twice.


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About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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