Remember When You Cared About… Sopes?

Chicken Sopes with Black Beans and  Chipotle Sauce

During last fall’s McCain-Obama Presidential election season, TV channel Comedy Central’s website had a feature called “remember when you cared about…” which reprised some of the now (& then) farcical action from the previous Presidential campaigns of W. Bush and John Kerry. The 2004 race was my first such campaign-season as a resident of this country, and Comedy Central reminded me that my particular favorite of the farces that staggered me at the time, for no other reason than I found it to be among the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard, was the furore over coma-patient Terri Schiavo’s right to live/die. This tragic, though utterly irrelevant coincidence captured the moral outrage/derision of an entire country for a while, managing somehow to obfuscate the abject performance of the Bush administration’s first term, and win them a second.


So, shamelessly parroting a humorous idea from said TV channel (while simultaneously removing the humor), we’re re-posting a meal we made a little over a year ago because it’s a great dish that we make regularly, and, ahem, because you, quite clearly, don’t remember that you didn’t care about it last time…

Sopes are a delicious and easy alternatives to your boring old tortilla.  We love piling these cornmeal “cakes” up high with a variety of toppings – beef, pork, pulled chicken or even just beans.  One of our obsessions is La Morena’s Chipotle Sauce.  I could drink this stuff.  It’s better than ketchup… yes, I said it.  Mixed with a bit of lime juice and cream/crema or sour cream and you’ve got a great topping for steak, chicken or sopes!  Give these crispy sopes a try and use your creativity to top it with whatever delicious things you find.

Shredded Chicken Sopes with Black Beans

Shredded Chicken Sopes with Black Beans (serves 2-4)

For sopes and chicken:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • more or less 1 cup warm water
  • pinch of salt
  • vegetable or corn oil or frying
  • 1 large bone-in chicken breast or 2 medium sized ones (with or without skin – just take skin off after you boil)

Topping possibilities:

  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 green or red pepper, cut in half and sliced into 1/2” slices
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 scallions, sliced
  • cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • salt
  • 1-2 cups of our black beans with chorizo and cumin
  • sour cream as a topping (optional)
  • cotija, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese as a topping (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle sauce + squeeze of lime + 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup tomatillo avocado sauce or chopped avocado (optional)


  1. Boil some water and cook your chicken breasts for 15 to 20 minutes or until it is not pink inside. How long you boil it for will depend on how big the piece is.  Once it is cooked, remove from water and allow to cool.
  2. Make your tomatillo-avocado salsa (if you choose to top your sopes with this).
  3. Start making your beans with chorizo and cumin.
  4. Time to make the sopes. In a bowl, add your masa along with a pinch of salt and the water, slowly to make sure you don’t make the batter to thin. You want it to be thick, not like pancake batter. If you need to add water, add more. If you feel like it’s too thin, add more masa. It should hold together by pressing it between your palms.  You will want to shape them and fry them about the same time (I’ve found that the dried masa sometimes doesn’t stick together as well as I’d like it to).  Reserve the masa mix in the bowl until you’re ready to fry your cakes.
  5. When your chicken breasts are cooked, allow to cool and then shred using your hands or a fork.
  6. In a pan on medium, saute your onions and pepper in some olive oil. Add your minced garlic. After 4 minutes or so, add your shredded chicken breasts and your spices (cumin, chipotle powder and some salt if necessary). Add the juice of half a lime and stir. Allow to warm the chicken back up, then turn on low to keep warm.
  7. Now, it’s time to fry your sopes. Take a lump of masa/water mixture and push it down so it’s about 1”-1 1/2” thick in a circular shape. It does NOT have to be perfect.  Usually mine end up being anywhere between 4″ to 6″ in diameter.
  8. Heat your oil up so it’s in frying-mode, making sure the oil level is about 1” to 2” deep. When oil is hot, using a spatula, slowly slide your sopes into the oil. After 1 1/2 minutes check it to see if you can turn. You want them to be a golden color, not very dark. They get very cruchy even if they do not look that brown.
  9. Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
  10. Now it’s time to build! On top your your sopes, add a layer of your beans, then a layer of your shredded chicken/onions/peppers mixture. Top with your optional toppings like cheese, tomatillo salsa, a small dollop of sour cream, a squeeze more of lime, chipotle sauce and some sliced scallions.

33 thoughts on “Remember When You Cared About… Sopes?

  1. Never heard of sopes but it looks a bit like fried polenta. All the rest looks fantastic! A great dish anytime, though I could see eating it to drown out thoughts of past presidents!

  2. Clearly, I wasn’t reading your blog a year ago, because I definitely would have remembered this! That looks so delicious… I love masa/black bean anything…

  3. I love black beans…well, I love all the ingredients in your sopes. Looks delicious. And what’s that tasty looking drink in the background? Mojito? Margarita? Caprinha? I’m hoping it’s not just seltzer & a lime.

    1. oh, joan. i’m not going to tell you what it really is… b/c you’d be disappointed. let’s just say, we had to improvise on the fly.

    1. giff you’re funny! they are actually pronounced So-pays. again, big thanks to jonny for having a good eye for plating. you don’t even want to know what it would look like if i tried to do it…

  4. I read this as “remember when you cared about Snopes” and I thought, “I still care about Snopes. It’s what I use to fire back at all of those panicky emails I get about the crocodiles in the sewer.”

    I guess I didn’t care enough, because I don’t remember this recipe and this looks so good, I don’t know why I didn’t care. My apologies and thanks for the repost.

  5. I really loved this entire post on so many levels. It’s funny in that I love sopes but never make them. This is inspiration to give it a go – thanks!


  6. Oh, wow. We totally care about sopas?
    And how can you NOT? They’re lovely, for one. Gotta give it to you that we don’t make them nearly often enough, though. Why is that?? Gotta wonder, since they’re absolultely delish.

  7. I think I just died and went to heaven. this looks amazing…heavenly amazing. I’ve never had sopas before, but time to venture out again! yummmm….
    oh and you’re an incredibly amusing writer that made me want this post to never end.

    1. excellent, excellent question. these best answer i can give is the way it’s shaped, its use and, mainly, the type of cornmeal used. Sopes use masa harina and arepas use masarepa (or harina PAN). the main difference b/w these two cornmeals, is masarepa is precooked.

      arepas are also browned/griddled w/ some oil, not really fried, like sopes.

      hope that answers your question and, as always, if we’re wrong, PLEASE school us…

  8. Never heard of sopes, but I made these last week. I’ve had a recipe for years and years though, which called them chalupas. Just like yours, I put pulled spicy beef & various toppings on. The only difference I can see is my old recipe adds 1/4 cup butter to the masa dough. Have you ever heard of chalupas?

    1. yeah, def. heard of chalupas. this is getting interesting w/ all the different cornmeal-fried things available. i’m thinking we may need to do a blog post on just that! the main diff. i found w/ chalupas vs. sopes is the size and width of them. chalupas are much thinner and is usually stuffed. great comment!

  9. I have never heard of sopes, but it does look a lot like pollenta.
    I just love your plating, that food looks really great. Have not done much Mexican food, but will have to try this out for the family.

  10. Que rico, chicos! Never heard about sopes before but since you are two and this can serve up to 4, please next time, let me know ;D
    I see you are also with La Tienda! Good job!!!

  11. girl u are one after my own heart… when we got to mexico, the first thing i do is look for these bad boys!! urs look way better than any i’ve had tho!

    take the break u need; i feel u on that.

  12. Sopes were invented to cure hangovers you know? There is a tiny taqueria here in portland who makes a mean sope! (Not as mean as my itty bitty mexican mother’s of course but pretty damn close!)
    Thank you for giving sopes the credit they deserve. They are so underrated, the poor little guys!

  13. Jokes about Shiavo. Real fucking funny. Stick with recipes about dishes you make sure are “in” and “happening”. That way you never have an original opinion, ever.

    1. thank you for your comment nck. sadly, you rather missed the point. While we definitely aren’t above making cheap gags at the expense of people who can’t fight back, my remark about Terri Schiavo was certainly not a joke. Her situation was without doubt a terrible personal & family tragedy, but it was not something upon which a national election should be decided.

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!