Masa-Thickened Chile Soup with Beef

  • Serves

    serves 4

Chef Odilia Roman of the Bar Jardin in Juchitan used traditional Zapotec chile soup thickened with masa harina (flour made from lime-treated corn) as the model for this beef-enriched local favorite.


  • 2 lb. beef short ribs (have your butcher cut ribs into 2'' pieces)
  • 7 cloves garlic; 5 unpeeled, 2 peeled
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 5 dried guajillo chiles
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 small white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Pinch freshly ground cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 5 Tbsp. masa harina
  • 2 Tbsp. dried epazote, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • 4 sprigs fresh epazote


Step 1

Place ribs, unpeeled garlic, and peppercorns in a large pot. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming, until meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Remove ribs, then strain stock into a bowl and set aside. When ribs are cool, pull meat from bones. Discard bones and set meat aside.

Step 2

Rinse guajillo chiles. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add chiles, and cook, turning, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Transfer chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water, and soak until soft, about 25 minutes. Drain chiles and remove and discard stems and seeds. (It is best to wear rubber gloves when handling chiles because oils can irritate skin.)

Step 3

Place chiles in a blender, add peeled garlic, tomatoes, onions, and cloves. Purée until smooth. Press through a sieve into a small bowl. Heat lard in a large pot over medium heat. Carefully add chile purée (it tends to spatter). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Step 4

Mix masa harina with 1 cup of water and stir into chile mixture. Cook for 1 minute, then add reserved stock, beef, and dried epazote. Season with salt and pepper, and heat through, 5-10 minutes. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh epazote, and serve warm.

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