Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Sopa de Conchas Con Picadillo (Pasta Shell Soup With Ground Beef)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Ground chuck with pasta shells in a warm tomato broth. You will need a bigger bowl, or ask for seconds and thirds!

What can I say about this sopa? Except that it was a favorite of my siblings and I when we were kids and it continues to be my favorite now! A simple pasta and ground beef dish with traditional flavors always gets the job done. A freshly blended tomato sauce with minimal spices is what takes this recipe over the top for me. And not just any pasta, but shells. The shells are perfect for holding that fresh tomato broth as is cooks down. Kids love this dish and will ask for it again and again. Bump up the spice level and your friends will ask you for the recipe again and again! Make sure to add this delicious recipe to your all in one pan recipes for a no fuss Mexican dinner.


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  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil to medium heat in a deep skillet.
  2. Add the pasta shells and cook, stirring often, until shells begin to toast lightly and become golden brown in spots. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shells from hot oil and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In that same deep skillet, turn heat up and add the beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until beef begins to caramelize in some spots.
  4. Add the onions, garlic and serrano. Sauté for 5 minutes. While that cooks, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin and chicken broth to the blender. Blend on high until smooth.
  5. Pour tomato mixture into skillet with the picadillo. Add bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add in the reserved toasted conchas. Stir well to combine, cover and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking for 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked through. Stir in peas and carrots, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Chef Notes

Toasting the pasta and then adding it later will prevent the pasta from overcooking in this dish. The longer the pasta sits in the warm broth, the more liquid it will absorb.

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