Sopa de Coditos is a comforting pasta dish made with elbow macaroni simmered in a simple tomato broth. My abuelita made sopa six days a week. The recipe was always the same, the only thing that changed was the shape of the pasta. Sopa is traditionally served as a side dish, but every once and a while my grandmother would add ground beef to her sopa and serve it as a main dish with warm tortillas, totopos, or cornbread. Sopa de Coditos with ground beef was a childhood favorite, and every time I make it for my family, I am reminded of my abuelita cooking in her cozy little kitchen.
Heat half of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until fully cooked. Transfer cooked ground beef to a heat-proof bowl; set aside.
Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the same skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the elbow macaroni and let cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown. Stir in the onion, serrano chile, and garlic; saute for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, the cooked ground beef, beef broth, water, and tomato sauce; season with salt and pepper to taste. (Do not stir beyond this point!) Let mixture come to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the macaroni has fully cooked and no liquid remains. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle shredded cheese over macaroni. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a fresh green salad and totopos (tortilla chips), warm tortillas, or cornbread.
This recipe can also be made with ground chicken or turkey. Just remember to substitute 1 cup of chicken broth for the beef broth.