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.
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.