Masa Ball Soup (Sopa de Bolitas)
Hey look, the recipe!
- 1/2 pound (225g) tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/4 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup water (65ml)
- 1 tablespoon light cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- 6 cups concentrated chicken broth (1.5L)
- 2 epazote leaves
- 1 chile ancho, de-seeded
- 1 chicken egg
- Salt to taste
- 5 tbsp grated queso añejo
- 1 1/4 Cups prepared corn tortilla masa
- 1-2 cups light oil for frying masa balls
- Blend the tomatoes (unpeeled, just chopped) along with the onion, garlic and water into your blender and pulse until the mix is almost uniform, but not quite.
- In a skillet or frying pan, heat up that tablespoon of oil, then add the mix from the blender. If the oil is too hot, it will splatter.
- Cook the tomato mixture for 8-10 minutes on a medium/high heat, let it reduce down by about 1/4.
- Meanwhile, heat your chicken broth to a low simmer in another pot with the epazote. (If you cannot find epazote in your local carniceria or Latin market, you can use a few springs of cilantro for this recipe)
- Add the reduced tomato mixture to the chicken broth, stir to incorporate, and salt to taste. Keep on low heat.
- Soak the chile ancho in hot water while you are working on the broth.
- Once it is re-hydrated and the blender is free, add the chile in strips to the blender with the egg. Blend until there are no large bits of the chile.
- Incorporate the chile/egg mixture-along with your grated cheese-into the masa.
- Salt the masa to taste, set aside.
- Heat your remaining oil in a small/medium skillet or frying pan.
- Using a melon baller or your eyes, make balls no larger than 1 inch in diameter and fry up a manageable number, turning in the oil until they are golden brown and cooked through (about 6 minutes), then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Serve the broth (a couple ladles will do) over 5 fried masa balls. If you want to adorn your soup, you can add a little cilantro, grated cheese and limes for squeezing.
This is a relatively quick soup that as it turns out, my kids loved. Basically, this is a tomato/chicken soup with little corn dough fritters floating in it. To make it, you need to have chicken stock on hand. If you make Mexican food more than once or twice a week, or buy rotisserie chickens from your international warehouse store, that’s pretty easy to do. You can also use the boxed/canned variety.
I found that this soup ended up with a really approachable (read: my four-year-old liked it) consistency. It is important to simmer the tomato mixture to set those flavors and the color.
A note about the cheese, if you cannot get añejo, a dry Italian cheese like Romano or Pecorino will work. A dry chile like cascabel or guajillo can also be substituted here, though ancho tend to be easiest to find.When making the masa balls, keep them under the 1 inch size, any larger and they will likely be uncooked inside. Too small and they’ll end up crunchy or leathery. My four-year-old asked for more bolitas several times. The chile wasn’t spicy.
The masa balls should not be too sticky to roll, if they are, a bit of nixtamalized corn flour (aka maseca) may be added to the dough, though they will fry just fine.Once the masa balls are ready to fry, just take care not to let them flatten out, keep them moving in the pan and cook them until they are crisp and brown on the outside. With a bit of ham, cheese or chorizo inside, these would probably make a nice little hors d’oeuvres. The soup is surprisingly light and not substantial enough to stand alone as a meal.