Sopa de conchas (Mexican shell pasta soup) comes together in under 30 minutes, feeds any picky eater, and cures even the worst of hangovers. This Mexican sopita includes toasted pasta and hearty vegetables bathed in a spicy tomato broth.
It's pretty hard not to love!
This soup recipe is one of our favorites because of how easy it is to make without lacking in the flavor department. Try yours for lunch, dinner, or even a savoury breakfast!
What is sopa de conchas?
In English, sopa de conchas means shell pasta soup — and you better believe it's delicious. Even though pasta originated in Europe, Mexico has imparted its own flavors into this dish with a flavor-packed tomato broth.
You can find similar broth preparations in recipes like sopa de fideo or sopa de estrellitas.
All that's left is to pan-toast the shell pasta, add in the salsa and broth, and mix in some veggies if you'd like!
Sopa de conchas is a little smoky, slightly tangy, and full of flavor. You really need to try making this tasty dish!
Spain seems to have been the birthplace of noodle soup, typically serving it with a homemade chicken stock base.
During the Spanish conquest, many European foods and practices appeared in the "New Spain" culinary scene.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce was actually considered a "dry soup" of sorts. And food historians believe spaghetti likely morphed into different pasta shapes, became soupier, and acquired a little more flair thanks to Mexico.
For example, the traditional stock used in Spain has changed into a rich, hearty, and flavorful tomato-based salsa.
It's no wonder this soup is so popular!
This sopa de conchas recipe is 100% vegan and can be adapted to be gluten-free with your favorite pasta brand. Make sure you serve it hot off the stove for the best flavors.
Try crumbling vegan queso fresco on top or a squeeze of lime juice to take your sopita up a notch.
If you're like us, we usually eat this soup straight up because it's delicious as-is! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: made from durum wheat, shell pasta is the perfect shape to make sure the tomato broth is easily scooped up in each bite. It's also soft, tender, and creates less of a mess than spaghetti!
Health: with a little bit of fiber and B-vitamin fortification, shell pasta is actually a great addition to soups because it keeps you full for longer and creates a heartier dish.
Taste: with tangy, slightly acidic, garden-fresh flavors, tomatoes make the perfect soup base. Once cooked down, they offer more sweetness to really round out this dish.
Health: tomatoes contain a special antioxidant, called lycopene, that comes with a big list of benefits. It can help improve your heart health and lower your risk of certain types of cancer — and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Taste: pungent, sharp, and delicious in salsas, white onions are used extensively in Mexican cooking (both raw and cooked). They add a zesty and fresh element to a broth like this one.
Health: onions are a great source of vitamin C. Not only that, they contain a powerful compound, called quercetin, which has shown some promising effects on lowering blood pressure.
Taste: the intense flavors of garlic give this soup broth an irresistible aroma and addicting taste. With its zesty, spicy, and punchy notes, you're not going to want to skimp on the garlic!
Health: garlic has been used to flavor dishes for centuries, but it's been used medicinally for even longer. In fact, garlic is still used today for many different ailments like atherosclerosis and high cholesterol.
If you have questions about this sopa de conchas recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: preheat your oven and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the tomato halves and onions out evenly on the foil and roast them for around 15 minutes, or until softened and slightly blackened.
Step 2: add the tomatoes, onions, and garlic cloves to a blender and mix on high until smooth. Prepare 6 cups of vegetable broth (we use bouillon cubes, but pre-mixed stock also works). Set both of those aside.
Step 3: heat some olive oil over medium in a large stockpot. Add the dry shell pasta in and cook while stirring constantly until fragrant. Remove those from the pot.
Step 4: Add the carrots and celery in and sauté for another few minutes. Transfer the pasta shells back in along with the salsa mixture. Add the vegetable broth and cilantro sprigs in and simmer everything until the pasta is al dente.
Step 5: season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve your sopita immediately with garnishes like queso fresco, cubed avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, or lime wedges. Happy eating!
An easy-to-make soup that also stores well? Say it ain't so! Keep this sopita on deck for all those times when you need a little snack.
Once your sopa de conchas has cooled down, transfer it to a large container and it'll last in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The pasta will absorb more liquid as it sits longer, so just keep that in mind.
Sopa de conchas is relatively freezer-friendly, especially if you divide it into single-serving sizes. Just make sure it's stored in freezer-safe bags or containers. Thaw it overnight in the fridge when you want to serve it again.
Heat the soup in a saucepan over medium-low for about 2-3 minutes on your stovetop. If you're feeling a little lazy, the microwave also works in 30-45 second bursts.
💭 Pro tips
We'd like to share some tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this sopa de conchas recipe:
- Skip the frying. If you're looking to keep the calories low, skip the oil when you toast the pasta — just be careful not to burn it.
- Add in other spices. Try using cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, or epazote to bring a uniqe twist to this simple dish.
- Keep it simple. If you want an even quicker, easier recipe, leave out the extra vegetables.
- Make it spicy. We sometimes add serrano chiles to make our sopa de concahas on the spicier side.
- Make it gluten-free. Try adding your favorite gluten-free pasta noodles for a completely gluten-free option.
🍴 Tasting notes
Sopa de conchas is just what the doctor ordered, especially as the weather cools off. It's:
If you try this sopa de conchas recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Sopa de Conchas
- Chef knife and cutting board
- Large stockpot
- 5 Roma tomatoes, halved ($0.79)
- ½ medium white onion, quartered ($0.12)
- 2-3 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- 1 package shell pasta ($0.22)
- 1 medium carrot, diced ($0.14)
- 1 stalk celery, diced ($0.05)
- 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.40)
- 2-3 sprigs cilantro ($0.01)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- Preheat your oven to 450°F, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the tomato halves and onion quarters out evenly on the foil. Roast for 15 minutes, or until they're softened and slightly blackened.
- Add the tomatoes, onions, and garlic cloves to a blender and mix on high until smooth. Prepare 6 cups of vegetable broth (we use bouillon cubes, but pre-mixed stock also works). Set both of those aside.
- Heat olive oil over medium in a large stockpot. Add the dry shell pasta in and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the pot.
- Add the carrots and celery in and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer the pasta shells back in along with the salsa mixture.
- Lastly, add the vegetable broth and cilantro sprigs, bringing the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve this soup immediately with garnishes like queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, or lime wedges. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican soups, check out our:
- Sopa de habas for an easy one-pot recipe that's high in protein and great for a weekly meal prep.
- Black bean soup for a cheap-to-make soup that's effortless to put together but brings the flavor!
- Sopa de fideo to try another simple but comforting soup made with noodles served in a salsa broth.
- Sopa de lentejas for a protein and fiber-packed lentil soup with hearty vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, and garlic!
Sopa de conchas is not gluten-free because shell pasta is made with wheat. If you can find a gluten-free pasta brand where you live, it can definitely be adapted.
Canned tomatoes are a suitable substitute for the fresh tomatoes in this recipe. However, whenever you have the choice to use fresh ingredients, always go that route.
If you can't find shell pasta, any pasta will work. Some other options include fideo, thin spaghetti, or stelline.