As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Get dinner on the table in no time at all with this classic Mexican shell soup recipe! Learn how to make shell soup, and even your picky eaters will be begging for it again and again!

A white bowl full of noodles, red sauce and cheese on top with a spoon.

How to Make Shell Soup at Home

This seashell soup (also known as sopa de conchas recipe) is an authentic Mexican style soup that’s comfort food at its finest!

The sea shell pasta noodles are so much fun to scoop out of the flavorful tomato broth. It’s also incredibly easy to make with just a handful of simple ingredients you likely already have on hand.

It’s the perfect brothy soup when your family is feeling under the weather, but it’s also great when you need a light, filling meal on a busy weeknight. 

A white pot full of sea shell noodles and red sauce with a ladle.

shell pasta soup

Like it? Save this recipe for later!

Why We Love This Seashell Soup Recipe

  • Quick and easy: This Mexican shell pasta soup starts a little bit differently than regular chicken noodle soup. You actually toast the noodles first before adding all the rest of the ingredients! As it cooks, the tender pasta shells release their starch, giving the soup a little extra flavor and a smooth texture. It really could not get much easier!
  • Flavorful broth: Although the broth requires just a few ingredients, each one has tons of flavor, from the onion to the crushed tomatoes and the simple seasonings. This Mexican noodle soup is incredibly flavorful and absolutely delicious!
  • Versatile recipe: Want to try a different type of pasta? No problem! Prefer a spicy soup? Add some red pepper flakes! No stock on hand? Use chicken bouillon cubes or bouillon paste! Make it work using what you have on hand.
  • Budget-friendly recipe: With such a short ingredient list, including some common staples you likely already have, this Mexican sopita is incredibly affordable to make and great for feeding your whole family on a budget!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients required to make Mexican shell soup with labels.
  • Olive oil: Start by heating up some oil in your pot to toast your noodles until golden brown.
  • Sea shell pasta: Use the regular dry shell pasta from the grocery store to make this simple Mexican soup recipe. You can easily substitute different types of pasta, like alphabet pasta, star pasta, elbow macaroni, etc.
  • Onion: Stick with yellow or white onion. Be sure to mince it into fine pieces to sautee with the Mexican shells.
  • Chicken broth: Use reduced sodium chicken stock to keep the salt content low. Vegetable broth works great for a vegetarian soup, too.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes: These tomatoes have a nice texture and rich tomato flavor. You can also use tomato sauce or blend regular canned tomatoes.
  • Seasonings: Season your soup with a mix of dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Shredded cheese: Sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese on top, or for a more traditional meal, crumble some queso fresco.

How to Make Mexican Shell Soup – Step-by-Step

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot and add pasta shells. Sauté the shells for 3 minutes over medium heat and then add the minced onion. Cook until the shells are toasted (making sure to not let them burn) and the onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken broth, dried oregano, garlic powder and onion powder to the pot along with the pasta. Stir in the crushed tomatoes until combined.
  3. Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, then boil the pasta for about 10-12 minutes or until it is cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm sprinkled with some shredded cheese, if desired.
Keep scrolling to the recipe card below for the full printable recipe!
A white bowl full of noodles, red sauce and cheese on top with a spoon.

RECIPE TIPS

  • This soup tends to thicken the longer that it sits since the noodles absorb the liquid. You may need to add a bit of extra broth to the soup to thin it out before serving if it’s been sitting for a while. 
  • If you prefer your shell soup with less tomato flavor and a thinner consistency, add more broth. 
  • To make a heartier soup, you can add your favorite veggies. Some popular options include carrots, bell peppers, green beans, zucchini, and peas. You can also add ground beef or mini meatballs!
  • If your kids aren’t a fan of onions, you can shred the onion to make it more subtle or skip it altogether.
  • While the soup is simmering, be sure to stir it every couple of minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Recipe FAQs

What is sopita made of? 

Sopita is a traditional Mexican soup made by cooking noodles in a flavorful tomato broth. There are different versions using different types of noodles, like sopa de conchas, which uses little shells or sopa di fideo, which uses long, skinny noodles. The exact ingredients vary from family to family, so you may find some people adding beans, different vegetables, or adjusting the spices to their family’s preferences.

​Can you make gluten-free sopa de conchas?

Yes, you just need to use gluten-free pasta shells instead. You may need to adjust the cooking time to keep them from becoming overly soft.

What’s the difference between sopa de fideo and sopa de conchas?

Fideos are long, skinny noodles, and conchas are tiny shells. These are both Mexican pasta soups that are made following the same basic broth recipe. The main difference is that they use different types of noodles! 

A glass container full of noodles, red sauce and cheese on top.

Storage Guidelines

  • Refrigerator: Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The cooked pasta does not thaw well, so it’s best served fresh or from the fridge.
  • To freeze: If you wish to freeze it, just cook up the base and freeze. Thaw in the fridge, cook the noodles and stir in right before you’re ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions

This sopa recipe is best served with a little shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream. It’s also wonderful with some lime wedges and cilantro. Serve it with a side of tortillas to sop up the flavorful broth, a side salad or veggies!

For a more substantial meal, pair it with a filling main dish, like:

Recipe Variations

  • Sopa de conchitas con carne: Add some ground beef or even mini meatballs to the soup for extra protein.
  • Add some beans: For some plant-based protein, feel free to add some pinto or black beans.
  • Start with fresh tomatoes: The traditional recipe often starts by making a homemade salsa out of fresh Roma tomatoes and cooking them down. You can always sub in fresh tomatoes for crushed tomatoes.
  • Use a slow cooker: Add the toasted shells and sauteed onions to your crockpot, then add the rest of the ingredients and let it slow cook just until the pasta is tender.
A white bowl full of noodles, red sauce and cheese on top with a spoon.

More Pasta Recipes

Did you make this recipe? Scroll down to leave a star rating and revieW
A bowl of seashell soup topped with cheese.
Recipe
5 from 2 votes

How to Make Shell Soup

Created by Elysia
Servings: 4 – 5 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Get dinner on the table in no time at all with this classic Mexican shell soup recipe! Learn how to make shell soup, and even your picky eaters will be begging for it again and again!

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces sea shell pasta (about 1 3/4 cup dry pasta)
  • 1 small onion minced finely
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon of each)

To serve:

  • Sprinkle of shredded cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil in a medium pot and add pasta shells. Sauté the shells for 3 minutes over medium heat and then add the minced onion. Cook until the shells are toasted (making sure to not let them burn) and the onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, dried oregano, garlic powder and onion powder to the pot along with the pasta. Stir in the crushed tomatoes until combined.
  • Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, then boil the pasta for about 10-12 minutes or until it is cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm sprinkled with some shredded cheese, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 687mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 4mg
A bowl of seashell soup topped with cheese.

Did you make this?

Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for more kid-friendly recipes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating