Sopa Peliroja / The Art of Travel

23 Jul
*Alayna wrote this post. Thanks Alayna:
Alayna and Mary Lorraine in Corsica, trying to open a bottle of red wine without a bottle opener.

One of the reasons that this blog exists is that Mary and I both had that un-ingnorable urge when we were in our early twenties to throw caution to the wind, give up our homes and friends, jump on the next flight and go somewhere, anywhere, that sounded good in a story. When we met, we’d both had a few backpacking trips under our belts, and were ready for something a little less controlled than the rolling hills of Southern France, so we would take our breaks in Morocco and Croatia instead of Paris and London. By the end of college, neither of us knew what we wanted to do or be now that we were ‘grown-ups’ and, in a series of jokes gone too far ended up moving ourselves to Thailand, for Mary, and Costa Rica (followed by Panama, and after a sojourn in New York, Mexico), for me.

Both of us were working in ‘community development’, a vague term that, for people working in the field, implies many mornings, afternoons and evenings sitting at someone elses’ kitchen table eating their food, sitting on their porches drinking the local cold (or hot) beverage of choice and thinking of what you could possibly say next. The rare occasion when you can cook for yourself, you want something that reminds you of your past, of who you are when you’re not The American, but just the friend of so-and-so, that girl from class or someone’s room-mate’s coworker. Something that makes your current residence seem a little more like home.

A week ago, my friends Alice, who I worked with in Mexico, and Chelsey, who I know from New York through my dear friend Mojdeh sent me a message from Nicaragua. They’d been, through a series of accidents, placed together to head a project for Amigos de las Americas and realized that they both knew me and were both Monday’s Soup followers. Their request was simple: make a soup that they can make in Nicaragua that will remind them of home. This is a bastardized version of Sopa Azteca, a delicious Mexican soup that’s perfect for the chill of a rainy day, but light enough to have when it’s hot out too. And no, it doesn’t require blending, so you can make it on a hotplate too. Last but not least, this soup is all about the toppings, so it’s great to have with a group of people where everyone might want a personalized bowl.

So ladies, this is it. I can’t remember who’s veg, but you can also make the soup with more tomatoes instead of chicken.


  • To start, buy one small, plain rotisserie chicken and debone, pulling pieces into bite-sized pieces and leaving the skin on… place in a bowl and set aside
  • Dice about 8 cloves of garlic and sautee in vegetable oil
  • Add about 4 dried Chilies Anchos (or Chiles Pasillas, which are traditionally used… Chipotles would probably also be good), chopped with the seeds removed, and 2 red hot chilies (chiles de arboles)
  • Add one small yellow or white onion, chopped
  • Once everything is getting well cooked, throw in the chicken meat and about 4 roughly chopped tomatoes
  • Cook covered until warmed through
  • Cover with chicken broth and bring to a simmer, adding the juice of two big limes and a handful of cilantro, and cook about 5-10 min

    • In a separate pan, heat vegetable oil and then lightly fry sliced tortilla strips until golden brown, draining on a paper towel and putting aside
    • In separate bowls, have sour cream (or plain yogurt, or crema, depending on what’s available), sliced avocado, shredded cheddar (or oaxaca, or whatever kind is available) cheese and some more hot peppers and let everyone mix them in their own bowl


    Enjoy!
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