Think about food in Mexico and tacos, tortas and tamales are likely to spring to mind. But what about soups? Soups, broths and stews may not be the most glamorous of dishes, but Mexico has plenty of delicious regional varieties that you ought to be checking out. Here are the top 10 Mexican soups to try.
Let’s kick off with the Marmite of Mexican soups: menudo. Sometimes known as pancita (‘little belly’), you guessed it, menudo is made with tripe doused in a rich, flavoursome broth. Most menudo-eaters will pileon the onion, coriander and lime juice before tucking in, and while some hail it as the king of hangover cures (it’s sold by the gallon on Sunday mornings for some reason), others save it for special events such as weddings. There are also those who just can’t stomach the stuff.
A staple regional dish of Jalisco state, birria is really more of a stew than a soup, but it’s so delicious we couldn’t not include it. Much like menudo, it’s a favourite for special occasions, like weddings and birthdays, and is also regularly enjoyed on Sunday mornings. It’s made with tender goat’s meat (or mutton, or beef) that falls off your fork as you try to gobble it up, combined with a spicy adobo sauce, and should be served with warm corn tortillas, onion and lime. Alternatively, eat in the form of a taco dorado (a hard taco, Mexican-style, not Taco Bell-style).
Sopa de tortilla
Mexico City’s sopa de tortilla, otherwise known as sopa Azteca or even sopa tarasca, does what it says on the tin, combining crispy corn tortilla strips with a richly flavoured, spicy tomato base. Chunks of avocado, cubes of fresh cheese and dollops of crema are traditionally piled on top, although some people also like to throw in chicharron (pork rind) and pasilla chillies. Whatever extras you decide to include, this soup will likely become a firm favourite.
Sopa de Lima
Some say that sopa de lima, which hails from the Yucatán Peninsula and is a combination of Mayan and Spanish cooking techniques and ingredients, is similar to sopa de tortilla. However, beyond the use of tortilla strips, we fail to see the resemblance. After all, sopa de lima (‘lime soup’) relies heavily on the almost acidic flavour that lime brings to this fresh yet punchy dish, which also typically includes chicken, pepper, tomato and coriander.
Sopa de piedra
If you speak Spanish, you might be confused at the name of this next soup, sopa de piedra. If you don’t speak Spanish, it’s worth noting that this translates as ‘stone soup’. An entirely indigenous dish, from the town of San Felipe Usila in Oaxaca, sopa de piedra is a simple and intriguing soup which, surprisingly, does involve the use of a stone. Once the ingredients (mainly consisting of vegetables and seafood) are prepared, pre-heated stones are plucked from the flames and added to the pot, essentially cooking the broth from the inside out.
Sopa de fideos
Noodle soup, aka sopa de fideos, isn’t exactly Mexico-specific (in fact, it’s also a staple in regional Filipino, Spanish and Tex-Mex cuisine); however, it is a commonly consumed, simple broth, often served as the starter course for fonda meals (a fonda being a restaurant in a family home) and comida corrida (affordably priced set meals). The noodles (vermicelli and angel hair pasta can also be used) tend to be broken up and browned before being added to the stock base. For a more whimsical twist on sopita de fideos, some people use pasta letters, creating sopa de letras.
Caldo de siete mares
The Mexican ‘seven seas soup’ uses seafood as its main ingredient, funnily enough, and is also known in Spanish as caldo de siete mares and caldo de mariscos (the less wordy ‘seafood soup’). Generally popular in coastal areas of Mexico, like the Baja Peninsula and Puerto Vallarta, it’s watery in appearance but rich in flavour, and will typically pull together any in-season seafoods with a chicken, tomato or fish base.
Arguably the best known of all the Mexican soups, pozole (from the Nahuatl pozolli) is a traditional and time-consuming dish that is typically saved for special occasions, including Mexican Independence Day. Although there are various regional variations on pozole, including green, white and red versions, your standard pozole (an absolute must-try when in Mexico) contains hominy (corn) and pork (usually), to which most will add fresh onion, coriander, cabbage, sliced radish and a dash of lime juice. It’s eaten accompanied by crema-slathered tostadas.
Caldo Tlalpeño, originating from the Tlalpan area of Mexico City, really just seems like a fancy way of saying ‘chicken soup’. After all, it’s made from a base of chicken broth, chicken meat and assorted vegetables – chickpeas, carrots, beans and onion – seasoned with chilli and garlic, and sometimes served with avocado, cheese, rice and tortilla strips. Truly traditional versions skip the rice.
Caldo Xóchitl is very similar to caldo Tlalpeño, again based on a light chicken broth, with shredded chicken meat, onion and avocado. However, caldo Xóchitl ups the ante with the addition of tomatoes and peppers. Many people will also chuck in all sorts of other vegetables to this mix. Long story short, if you’re feeling sick, this is probably the Mexican soup you’ll crave.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.