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Caldo de Verduras con Conchitas (Hearty Vegetable Soup with Pasta Shells)

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Tips~ If you want to keep the shape and texture of your pasta when adding it to soups, cook it and keep it separately. Spoon the cooked pasta to the bottom of the bowl and then ladle in the hot soup over the top. This way you have perfect pasta and lots of broth!

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Ingredients

  • For soup base:
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 serrano or jalapeño pepper, stem removed
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic (take off the cloves, but leave the skins on)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • Chicken or Vegetable Base for soups
  • 2 chayotes, remove pit and dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 red potatoes, sliced into chunks
  • 2 ears of corn, sliced into niblets or you can remove the corn from the cob with a sharp knife
  • 1 full cup cabbage, chopped or shredded
  • 3/4 cup small pasta shells ("conchitas")

Details

Adapted from hispanickitchen.com

Preparation

Step 1

1. Preheat dutch oven style pot to medium/low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onion, serrano and cloves of garlic. I use this stove top method for roasting/browning while I prep the rest of the ingredients. You want the mixture to brown in some spots and soften slightly. After 15 minutes, remove the garlic and remove skins before using. Transfer all ingredients for tomato base to the blender, add 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons of soup base, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth, set aside.

2. In that same dutch oven pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium heat for a minute or two. Add the tomato sauce from the blender and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add 6 cups of water, along with 6 teaspoons of soup base, chayote (a kind of squash), carrots, celery, lemon juice/zest, cilantro, oregano, coriander, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Taste for salt and pepper. You can adjust the amount of soup base added, depending on how strong you like it. Reduce heat to simmer, cover loosely and cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.

4. Add in the remaining ingredients, along with 2 remaining cups of water, 2 teaspoons soup base and 3/4 cup of small pasta shells. Continue cooking just until pasta is done. If you like it with more broth, you will have to add more at this time. The longer it sits, the pasta will absorb more broth. Serve right away with warm tortillas. Garnish with lemon wedges, fresh cilantro or parsley.

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