Mexican Tripe Soup (Pancita/Menudo)

23 Jul


Alright, people. You must have known this recipe was coming sooner or later. For the past year or so I have been playing around with nourishing soups (recent examples are here and here), so I thought it was time to tackle the mother of them all: Menudo. This tripe soup is often considered the ultimate hangover cure, similar to many bone broth soups found worldwide.

In Northern Mexico, Menudo is cooked with hominy, which is a form of corn that has been soaked in an alkaline solution. This process (called nixtamalization) removes the hull and germ from the kernel, effectively removing most of corn’s toxic anti-nutrients and making it more digestible. This process has been around since at least 1500 BCE, when people in present-day Mexico and Guatemala would soak their corn in water mixed with wood ash. If you do decide to use hominy in your recipe, be sure to get the organic stuff to ensure it isn’t made with GMO corn. But definitely feel free to omit the hominy and still consider the recipe authentic: it is also called Pancita in some regions, and from what I can tell Pancita also doesn’t usually include hominy.


serves six

soup base:
2 lbs honeycomb tripe, sliced into 1″ pieces
2 pig’s feet, cow hooves, or beef knuckles
12 cups water
2 bay leaves

chili paste:
6 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
1/2 medium white onion
4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp dried oregano, Mexican oregano preferred (more to taste and to garnish)
1 tsp dried cilantro
2 16oz cans organic (non-GMO) hominy (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 2 limes
1/2 medium white onion, diced (garnish)
crushed red pepper (garnish for additional spiciness)

Menudo is made with all sorts of bones to make the broth, but the most common I’ve seen are pig’s feet, cow’s hooves, or beef knuckles. For my own purposes I used pig’s feet to add an interesting dynamic and to avoid a soup that’s too “beefy” tasting.

I should also note that it’s easiest to cut the tripe when it’s partially frozen. Also, for the sake of saving time, you don’t need to thaw out your pig’s feet (or cow’s hooves, beef knuckles) before cooking.

Put the feet and tripe in a large pot, and fill it with water. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse gently with cold water. Return the pieces to the pot and fill with enough water to cover everything by at least 1″, about 12 cups total.

Bring everything to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for one hour. Be sure to scoop up any foam or fat that accumulates on the surface. After an hour, add the bay leaves and simmer until the feet just start to fall apart, about another hour. Add water as needed to keep the pieces fully submerged.

As the soup simmers, prepare the chili paste by placing the chiles in a small pot with about one cup of water, and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove the pot of chiles from the heat and let it sit for about thirty minutes. Once they are cool, blend the chiles with the onion and garlic, adding some of the water you boiled the chiles in if the paste gets too thick.

Once the pig’s feet are just starting to fall apart, add the chili paste (pour it through a strainer to catch any big chunks or seeds), oregano, and dried cilantro, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Next, fish the feet out and set them aside to cool while the soup simmers for another 30 minutes. This is also when you would add the hominy if you’re using it. Once the feet are cool, remove any pieces of meat you can find and add it to the soup. Discard the rest of the feet.

After the soup has simmered for an additional 30 minutes (three hours total – one hour with just the tripe/feet, one hour with the bay leaves, 30 mins with the chili paste, 30 mins without the feet), it’s ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste (probably about 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper), and add the lime juice. Serve with diced white onion and more dried oregano, and crushed red pepper for additional spiciness. Some people like to add fresh chopped cilantro as well.

Many people like to refrigerate this soup overnight and reheat the next day, to allow the flavors to marry, and I think that’s a pretty good idea.

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34 Responses to “Mexican Tripe Soup (Pancita/Menudo)”

  1. primalparkgirl July 23, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    OK, you’ve convinced me! Just added tripe to the list for my weekly trip to the butcher.

  2. Julie July 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Please, “CLOSE MY ACCOUNT – UNSUBSCRIBE – ME. Thank you.

    • Russ Crandall July 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Hi Julie, unfortunately I don’t have the ability to remove people from my mailing list, it’s automated. You’ll have to click on the “manage subscriptions” link at the bottom of the email in order to remove yourself. I apologize for any inconvenience.

  3. Trit July 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    This looks delicious! I don’t think that I am quite prepared for such an artful enterprise in culinary, but I will have the idea in mind in the future.

  4. Kate July 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Looks good. Where did you get your tripe.

    • Russ Crandall July 23, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      Kate, I got mine from US Wellness Meats:

      http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Detail.bok?no=1240&affId=135214

      But you can often find it at your local Asian market.

      • molly July 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

        you can also find it your local supermarket. thanks for the recipe russ – – i will be trying it out soon!

      • Martie April 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

        Thank you for putting this recipe here so that we can make it. When I was small my mother ( who has since passed ) use to make it very close to your recipe. She never
        wrote anything down, she was the kind of person that would use a pinch of this and a
        and that. Yet her recipe for Menudo was always the same and as yummy as the time before. She also never let me near her stove ( her pride and joy of her kitchen) So I
        learned how to cook at my Home Ec. Class which schools don’t offer any more do to
        funding cuts. So Thanks again. Keep up putting all of these wonderful recipes on the
        internet so that they will never be lost.

        • Russ Crandall April 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

          Martie, happy to be of help, and thanks for sharing!

        • Mike April 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

          This recipe is spot on. The only recommendation is to use soe crushed tomatoes (with juice) when making yhe chili paste. The acid frim the tomatoes makes the flavor realy pop where as other wise iy lacks the punch. :) Enjoy. This is a great recipe!

  5. Shawnte F. July 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Oh man this picture made me want to eat it!! My family makes Menudo only during Christmas. It’s something I totally look forward to eating. I have made it at home and the recipe is very similar. It’s something my grandmother has made for ages!! I may have to make some soon. I also find the Mexican markets sell the spices cheaper as well. Thank you for taking me back to my childhood! Make this it’s a great hangover cure us Mexicans totally eat it after a night out!!

  6. foodsworthcom July 25, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Looks good! Will have to prepare this Saturday for my Sunday morning hangover Menudo!

  7. Eileen @ Phoenix Helix July 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    You are officially the Organ King!

  8. Ayako Mathies July 26, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    Looks great and sorry I always thought Menudo was a group…!

  9. Irina @ wandercrush July 30, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    Honeycomb tripe is so beautiful… makes me wonder why so many people don’t go near all the rest of the beast! Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. slimpalate August 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    A savory dish that calls for honeycomb…. this is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

  11. Mike August 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    This looks great, hopefully someday you do a recipe for pork pozole, my Mexican friends are tight lipped when it comes to that recipe

  12. Claire August 14, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    YESSS! I am going to make this for my Dad on father’s day.

  13. G Fiamma September 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Coming from a Sicilian family, my mom made tripe alot. She would par boil it in broth, then add it to a rich ragu of tomatoe sauce and let it slow cook for hours. The smell of it made us kids sick to our stomachs. Only two of my siblings including my dad ate tripe. I preferrably don’t like it, but my man does. He is a Menudo eating fool so instead of using the old siciliano recipe I am going to use your Mexican one. Thanks for posting it Domestic Man, you are fearless!!!

    Gina Fiamma

  14. jrl January 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    I lived in El Paso for 30 years and I can remember my Mother making Menudo occasionally …..I had the job of cutting the tripe ( unfrozen ) with a knife and it can be awkward to handle but I discovered that it is easier to use kitchen scissors……..many years later as a HS teacher on cold winter mornings our cafeteria ladies would sometimes have Menudo at breakfast ( I am sure that it was not a school-board approved menu item. )….I also remember having onion breath for a few hours afterwards.

    • ismael gonzalez January 2, 2014 at 2:24 am #

      Hi jrl I also lived in El Paso back in the 50s when Mom made menudo. Lately my 2 sisters and I have been talking about the way our mom made menudo. We all agree with the basic menu but we have differenence on the “pata” part. When I make it I use pigs feet but my older sister says she used beef hooves. Well I looked at many receipies and found that many of them use veal knuckles, cow hooves and pigs feet. I use pigs feet, the others are to big. Oh by the way don’t put so many onions in the menudo, taste the menudo and chile with a little lima.

  15. haze January 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    looking to use lamb chops for the meat in my menudo? Need recipe. thank you

    • Russ Crandall January 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      Haze, I did a cursory look online and didn’t find any recipes similar to that. What I’d do if I wanted to add lamb chops to a soup would be to cook them separately – grilled or pan-fried – to med/rare, then let them rest and cut into bite-sized chunks to add to the soup before serving. Chops are lean and wouldn’t have a very good texture if stewed for a long period of time – something like lamb shoulder would be a better addition to a soup because its connective tissue would break down and add richness to the soup. Using lamb’s feet instead of beef hooves would add a lambiness to the overall taste as well. Let me know if that helps or if you have any questions!

  16. PRISCILLA January 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Just encountered this and boy would husband love me to venture it. Where do you get your non-GMO hominy?

    • Russ Crandall January 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Priscilla, to tell you the truth I don’t remember where I found it, but any organic produce is technically GMO-free. I would just keep an eye out for organic hominy – if not, it can be made pretty easily from dried corn (which is much easier to find organic).

  17. Mike April 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I made this and followed the recipe to the letter and it looks great but it’s bland compared to what I’m used to having at the restaurants that server it. Are there any suggestions to get that rich flavor?

    • Russ Crandall April 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Mike, sorry to hear that you didn’t find it very tasty, I typically find this to be a very flavorful dish. When a soup is underwhelming, I find that a lack of salt is often to blame. I would experiment a bit with adding more salt to see if that does the trick; another option would be to add a bit more acidity to punch up the flavors – try adding a bit of Tabasco sauce to see if that gives it the body you’re looking for. At any rate, it’ll definitely be more flavorful the next day as well. Good luck!

      • Mike April 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

        I figured out that it’s the lack of acidity which is easily remedied by using crushed tomatoes or the like when making the chili paste. Realy brings the flavor up.

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