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January 1999 Issue
Soups and Stews
by Philip R. Gantt
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Menudo is a traditional soup of the poor people of northern Mexico. The sound of the ingredients may not appeal to most Americans, but the soup, when properly prepared, is delicious. It can be made mild or hot, depending upon personal tastes. It may be preferable to make the soup without chili as described below and provide the consumer with some red chili sauce to lend fire as one sees fit. This soup is often also served with a squeeze of lemon or lime, and a sprinkling of oregano.

This soup is time consuming to make but well worth the effort. It is a poor man's soup, but if you can manage to find it in a restaurant, it will probably be rather expensive. The cost of the ingredients for this recipe is about twenty dollars (1998), and the recipe would provide meals for well over a week for a family of hearty eaters.

This quantity of soup can be preserved by refrigeration or by freezing. The soup, once cooled, will be gelatinous in nature (like Jell-O), and can be easily scooped into freezer bags for storage.

The Mexican tradition is to make Menudo before the New Years celebrations because of its ability to ward off and cure hangovers. I'm not sure why, but it works! Try it. You'll probably like it.

  • 2 beef patas (feet) or 1 beef patas and 2 pork patas
  • 6 lbs. tripe, 4 lbs. regular and 2 lbs. waffle type
  • 4 lbs. hominy
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 large bunch chopped cilantro (coriander) including leaves and stems
  • Salt to taste (approximately ½ cup)
  • 5 green onions sliced into 2" segments
Scrub the tripe with a vegetable brush until it is clean, and peel as much of the fat and skein off of the tripe as feasible. Cut the tripe into 1 inch squares. Put the tripe into a large pot of water (a lobster pot works well for this soup).

Wash the hominy, scrubbing with the hands, (fresh hominy is preferred, not the canned variety) until it is nearly white and add it to the pot. Add the garlic and onion. Also scrub the patas until clean and add to the pot. Make sure that the patas are cut lengthwise and crosswise into pieces approximately 2 inches long. Add salt.

Fill the pot with water and simmer over a moderate flame for 3½ to 4 hours, stirring every 45 minutes. After 3½ hours, add the green onions and the chopped cilantro.

The soup is ready when the hominy has "bloomed", that is, the corn will begin to open like a flower. When this occurs, the soup is ready to eat. Some prefer their menudo red with chili. I prefer to serve the chili at the table so that everyone can season it to their own taste.

  • Yields: 30 servings
  • Preparation Time: 4½ hours
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