“What are we having for dinner?” It's a daily question around my mother’s home these winter days. I am currently her full time caregiver and, unfortunately, not quite the cook that she was as I was growing up.
As a single women, I can live on salads , any kind of tacos, chips and salsa... my needs are basic. Not the case with my mom. So, everyday I find myself challenged to “whip up” something that might resemble the cuisine she so enjoyed of days past. She more than deserves that!
It was cold today and I found myself thinking "ah, a good hearty Mexican soup will do the trick." I was craving beef, and my mom mentioned she hadn't had fideo for a long time. That sounded good to me, and I lucked out and found a box of fideo in the pantry, and some ground beef in the fridge. So I set out to make -- for the first time -- fideo and meatball soup.
In case you are not familiar with fideo, simply put, it means "noodles" in Spanish. In practice, fideo refers to a very specific type of noodle -- short, thin and golden -- that is alot like vermicelli. And not to confuse things, but the term 'fideo' is also used as the name of a Mexican soup, of which the noodles are a key ingredient.
My fideo turned out great, if I do say so myself. It even satisfied my mom with her discriminating palate!
Fideo and Meatball Soup
5 - 7 ounces of Vermicelli (Fideo)
1.5 lbs of ground beef
1 14.5-ounce can of Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of Goya brand tomato/chicken bouillon
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
a few pinches of Cumin
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
a few pinches of Smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 cups Chicken stock
1 avocado, chopped, for garnish
1 lime, for garnish
Tortilla chips, for garnish
Fresh jalapeños, chopped, for garnish ( if you like it spicy)
In a mixing bowl, mix the ground beef with a few pinches each of garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, parsley, salt and pepper (do this to taste), and form mixture into small meatballs.
Sauté the meatballs in a little olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add the onions and celery (and more olive oil if needed), and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the vermicelli and brown for 2 or 3 minutes.
In the same pan, add the meatballs, 2 ½ to 3 cups of chicken stock, the roasted tomatoes, the Goya tomato/chicken bouillon, and a few pinches each of smoked paprika, garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper (add the spices to taste), and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cilantro about 2 or 3 minutes before it's done.
Pour into soup bowls and garnish with a few sices of fresh avocado, tortilla chips, sliced jalapeños (if using), and cilantro. Squeeze in some lime to add a burst of flavor.
This dish is even better the day after it's made!
Patricia is a photographer and the editor of our neighborhood recipes.