Sopa Criolla | Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup

Hearty, healthy, hot soup is a fantastic way to chase away the winter cold! Sopa Criolla (Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup) with lean beef (ground or diced), angel hair pasta, healthy veggies, and the tantalizing, subtle heat of ají panca is pure Peruvian comfort food and ready in half an hour!

Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup in 2 black stoneware bowls topped with a runny egg, and served with a glass of rose.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup Inspiration

Our first June 2017 month in Peru undoubtedly intensified my interest in Peruvian food and flavors. The cultural influences – Incan, Indigenous, Asian, African, European – and the unique and varied ingredients – peppers, root vegetables, tropical produce, seafood, alpaca, cuy… – have been beautifully incorporated into one vibrant and eclectic cuisine. Peruvian food has become a culinary force, and with good reason! It is delicious.

Sopa criolla reminds me of a good pot of homemade beef/vegetable/noodle or chicken noodle soup… nothing fancy, just wholesome, body-warming, comforting soup. The key ingredient in sopa criolla is ají panca.

My love of Peruvian food drives my desire to encourage home cooks outside Peru to cook Peruvian and Peruvian-inspired food. I do not claim to be an expert, but have traveled (and tasted) food all over the Sacred Valley, the Andes, and Lima, in fine-dining restaurants, and tiny cafés in remote villages. Some of the most amazing food I’ve had in Peru was prepared by our Quechua campesino cook on our treks.

In coming up with my North American version, I took a little bit of liberty with the traditional recipes. Peruvians use a lot of evaporated milk (which I don’t care for!).  I replace it with half and half or non-dairy coconut creamer.

Additionally, Peruvians eat very carb-heavy meals, and I’m more concerned with getting veggies into the dish. So, my version omits the potato found in many of the recipes, as well as the fried bread found in some. I add diced sweet potato and petite peas, because we all need more vegetables, right?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.

~~ Oscar Wilde

~~ Oscar Wilde.

If you are Peruvian, and reading this post, please understand that I am not offering an “authentic” Peruvian sopa criolla recipe. My recipe is Peruvian-inspired, and in creating it, I hope that home cooks will embrace the flavors of your wonderful cuisine! If you love Peruvian soup recipes, you’ll want to check out my Peruvian cilantro chicken soup (aguadito de pollo) or my Peruvian beef stew.

🌶️ About Peruvian Ají Peppers

Peru is home to some pretty amazing peppers! While they remain somewhat unknown outside the country, the increasing popularity of Peruvian food means they’re more widely available outside Peru. We saw/tasted many of them during our many month-long trips to Peru. I will focus on the peppers that I keep in my well-stocked pantry, those available in my local markets.

Ají amarillo was the first Peruvian pepper I experimented with in my cooking. You may have tried one of Peru’s signature dishes, ají de gallina? It is a classic Peruvian dish – chicken with a creamy, spicy, nutty sauce served over rice.

The ají amarillo is very apparent in its sunny yellow-hued sauce. Ají amarillo has an earthy, sun-kissed sweetness that reminds me of raisins. People may say aji amarillo is “so hot,” but this California-born New Mexican finds them to be quite mild! I would say they are on par with the jalapeño. I use ají amarillo in my adaptation of ají de gallina, arroz con pollo, and Peruvian yellow sauce (huancaína sauce).

Ají panca  – featured in this sopa criolla (Peruvian beef noodle soup) – reminds me a bit of chipotle peppers. It has a more subtle but very present smoky flavor, and is deep red, mild, fruity, and slightly sweet. This tasty pepper is the key ingredient in Peruvian anticuchos (skewered hearts) and olluco con carne. By comparison, ají panca is milder than the jalapeño.

Ají rocoto may knock your socks off! This one is hot. This meaty, juicy pepper looks a bit like a red bell pepper, but the similarity ends there! The heat level varies, and may top out at habañero level spiciness. Proceed with caution.  😯 We enjoyed rocoto rellenos in Peru last summer – a spicy hot pepper stuffed with a savory meat mixture. I use them in my Grilled Rocoto and Bison Pizza, pork adobo, rocoto salsa, creamy rocoto aioli, and my solterito.

Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup Sopa de Criolla in Peru
A collage of a few of the many delicious bowls of sopa criolla that I’ve had in restaurants in
the Peruvian Andes – Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. Delicioso!

🍲 About My Sopa Criolla

I had sopa criolla a couple of times during our first month in Peru in 2017, and again in 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023. While the daytime temperatures were comfortable, the temperature dropped rapidly when the sun went down. Hot soup always sounded good. As I’m doing a brief update on this post, I realize I’ve probably had sopa criolla more than just about any Peruvian dish!

The typical pot of sopa criolla includes beef stock, ground or finely diced beef, ají panca, and angel hair pasta. The soft cooked egg on top is mandatory. I cannot resist a runny egg. EVER.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

ingredients for sopa criolla - cream/milk, beef stock, sweet potato, angel hair, aji panca paste, beef, peas, onion, garlic, oregano, eggs.

As with most “quick” recipes, you’ll want to gather ingredients and prep them prior to making the soup. The only ingredients that require chopping are the onion, the sweet potato, and the parsley or cilantro garnish. Most recipes call for a parsley garnish. Cilantro is a very typical Peruvian ingredient, and we prefer it in our sopa criolla.

  • olive oil
  • lean beef – I LOVE using tiny diced beef, but lean ground beef is quicker, and delicious too!
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ají panca paste – There is no substitution. I buy my ají panca paste on Amazon or at a local Latin foods market. Ají panca is pretty mild (milder than a mild jalapeño). I use 2-3 tablespoons in a pot of soup this size, and I get lots of flavor with mild heat that is definitely present. Adjust to your preferences.
  • tomato paste
  • sweet potato – Carrots or butternut squash are good substitutes.
  • good beef stock
  • oregano leaves – Dried oregano is traditional; add it with the sweet potatoes. I usually use fresh, and after chopping it, add it with the peas.
  • petite peas – Fresh peas are amazing, but frozen are fine.
  • cream or milk – I use non-dairy coconut creamer, but evaporated milk is traditional. You can also use half and half.
  • angel hair pasta – Angel hair is what you’ll find in Peru. I won’t tell if you use something else. 😄
  • eggs – Poached, basted or fried to your preference. You have to have a runny yolk though!
  • garnishes – Parsley is traditional, but we prefer cilantro. I sometimes garnish with some fresh oregano too. A lime wedge (or two) is awesome as well!

Don’t let the long list concern you! This comforting Peruvian-inspired beef noodle soup recipe comes together easily in about 30 minutes

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🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1 - The ground or minced beef and onion are browned in a dutch oven.
  • Step 1 – Brown and crumble the ground or minced beef, adding the chopped onion as it cooks. Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Don’t forget to add a palm full of salt!
Step 2 - The ají panca, garlic,and tomato paste are mixed into the pot with a wood spoon.
  • Step 2 – Add the ají panca paste, tomato paste, and garlic. Stir in and cook 1-2 minutes before proceeding.
Step 3 - The sweet potato is simmered in broth with oregano before the English peas are added.
  • Step 3 – Add broth and oregano. Cover and simmer 7-10 minutes, before adding the peas. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain. NOTE: As I mention elsewhere in the post, I put pasta into individual bowls, and pour the hot soup over it. Feel free to add it to the soup directly.
Step 4 - The milk or cream is added to the sopa criolla in the dutch oven.
  • Step 4 – Reduce heat to low. Stir in the half and half, evaporated milk, or creamer. DO NOT BRING TO A BOIL. Cover, and cook your eggs by preferred method.
  • Step 5 – Serve the sopa criolla. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with an egg per bowl. Garnish with chopped herbs and a lime wedge as desired. Enjoy!
Sopa Criolla | Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup with diced beef, aji panca chile paste, diced sweet potatoes and peas along with angel hair pasta and a runny egg in a black stoneware bowl.

❓ FAQ

Which is better, minced or ground beef?

I have had it both ways in Peru, and have done it both ways at home. It’s really a matter of personal preference. Unless you can find very small diced beef, you’ll spend a good amount of time chopping it small enough. On one occasion, I found lean chili beef that was perfect. Ground beef is the quickest option, and usually my pick.

How much ají panca paste should I use?

I increase the typical amount of ají panca paste to 2 tablespoons in this recipe. As I mention above, we like heat. My suggestion if you’re uncertain is to start with a tablespoon, and add as desired. Ají panca is really not very spicy.

Are the peas and sweet potatoes authentic?

NOPE! While they’re common in Peruvian cooking, I don’t know that I’ve ever had them in a bowl of sopa criolla in Peru. As I mentioned earlier, our diet is plant-based with meat taking a secondary role. The vegetables taste really good with the soup, but you can certainly omit them… Just don’t tell me. 😂

💭 Tips

  • I keep my cooked angel hair pasta separate, adding it to each bowl before ladling the soup over. My recipe makes 4 servings, and I’m cooking for 2. Pasta gets mushy in the liquid, and drinks it all up. You can cook the pasta in the broth (it’s a generous amount) if you prefer.
  • Freezing the leftover soup works well. Again, I suggest cooking the pasta separately. If I freeze half of the soup for another meal, I make a fresh batch of angel hair. Remember – a serving of pasta is 2 ounces!
  • Traditional recipes call for parsley; we typically use cilantro (also used in Peruvian cooking) because we prefer the flavor. The choice is yours.
  • Ají panca is pretty mild (milder than a mild jalapeño). I use 2-3 tablespoons in a pot of soup this size, and I get lots of flavor with mild heat that is definitely present. Adjust to your preferences.

When only a steaming hot bowl of soup will do, I hope you’ll give this hearty, comforting Peruvian-inspired beef noodle soup a try!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Peruvian Beef Noodle Soup Feature Image

Sopa Criolla Recipe

Hearty, healthy, hot soup is a fantastic way to chase away the winter cold! Sopa Criolla is pure Peruvian comfort food, and ready in half an hour!
5 from 11 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dish/Soups and Stews
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 634 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground or finely diced beef - see Ingredients Notes
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - (or more!)
  • 2 tablespoons ají panca paste - see Ingredients Notes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups sweet potato - 1/2″ dice
  • 4 cups good beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 2 cups petite peas - frozen is fine
  • 1 cup half and half - or non-dairy coconut creamer
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • sea salt/fresh ground pepper - to taste
  • 4 eggs - poached or basted
  • parsley or cilantro - to garnish

Instructions

  • Put a pot of water with a palm full of salt on to boil for the pasta.
  • To a dutch oven or deep pot, add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef. Cook until the beef is mostly brown (breaking it up if it’s ground beef). Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Continue to cook until the beef is gently browned, and onion is translucent.
  • Add the aji panca paste, the tomato paste, and the sweet potato. Stir an additional 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the stock and oregano leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender (7-10 minutes depending on size of dice).
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta cooks, add peas to the simmering soup.
  • Cook your eggs. Stir in the half n’ half or creamer. Reduce heat to warm. 
  • Drain pasta.
  • To serve: Add 1/4th of the angel hair to each bowl. Ladle the hot soup over. Use a fork to combine a bit. Top with an egg, and garnish with parsley or cilantro. Enjoy!

Notes

The quickest way to make this soup is with ground beef. Occasionally I can get a tiny diced sirloin. We love it in sopa criolla. You can sub other ground meat (ie. turkey or chicken), but I would suggest switching to chicken stock also.
Macros are based on 1 pound of 96/4 extra lean ground beef. 

Nutrition

Calories: 634kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 20g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

🍲 More Peruvian Soup and Stew Recipes

A white cast iron Dutch oven filled with Mexican Dutch oven beef stew on a striped placemat.

Mexican Dutch Oven Beef Stew

A black stoneware bowl of Peruvian beef stew with salsa criolla.

Peruvian Beef Stew (Seco de Carne)

A white ceramic bowl with Peruvian chicken and cilantro soup garnished with hard cooked egg and avocado.

Aguadito de Pollo – Peruvian Chicken Soup

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup - Sopa de Calabazo in a yellow ceramic bowl.

Peruvian Pumpkin Soup – Sopa de Calabaza

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12 Comments

  1. This looks and sounds delicious!!! While Peruvians might be “proud of their food”, a dose of kindness goes a long way— especially when someone like you is trying to promote it!! Give us more of your versions, please!!!

    1. Awww thank you Taylor! Peru is my second home, and we hope to spend even more time there when my husband retires. I appreciate you taking time to leave a response; it certainly brightens my day!

  2. I am sorry but this is NOT sopa criolla. I’m sure it’s a very nice soup but it’s not even close to an authentic sopa criolla. You should make clear it’s your interpretation of the Peruvian recipe. There’s no need to substitute milk for coconut milk or to add sweet potatoes!! I am Peruvian and we are very proud of our food.

    1. I never claim my recipes are “authentic.” In fact, I made it clear that it was inspired: “In coming up with my North American version, I took a little bit of liberty with the traditional recipes. Peruvians use a lot of evaporated milk (which I despise!). I replace it with half n’ half or non-dairy coconut creamer. Peruvians eat very carb-heavy meals, and I’m more concerned with getting veggies into the dish. So, my version omits the potato found in many of the recipes, and the fried bread. I add diced sweet potato and petite peas.” I apologize if my recipe offended you. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Toucan may have it! I found it in the Goya foods section of a Latino market in northwest El Paso once. Also, Amazon has many of the Peruvian pepper pastes… I hope you try it; it’s one of our favorite soups!

      1. Haha! This Sopa Criolla is a great work night meal because it’s so quick to make! It’s also cheap (which is also nice)… The aji panca is the only difficult ingredient, but hopefully Evan has a source for it! Let me know when you have it, and how you like it!