How-to Basics, Lunch, Recipes

How To Make Sope Shells

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make sope shells? All it takes is three simple ingredients and a little bit of practice.

Homemade Sopes topped with baby arugula, spinach, requeson cheese, and red salsa.

You know what I love about cooking with masa? It’s forgiving.

If your dough comes out too dry, you can simply add more water (a little at a time) until you get the right consistency. If it’s too sticky, add a little bit more corn flour. And if you’re trying to make corn tortillas but they end up coming out too thick, you can just use them as gorditas or sopes instead.

Flour tortillas don’t have that same flexibility, so I haven’t even tried mastering the flour tortilla yet.

Sopes on the other hand, I CAN commit to mastering – which is what I have been practicing this week.

Sopes are very similar to regular corn tortillas except they’re thicker and have a short wall around the edges to contain multiple toppings. A typical sope is topped with a layer of refried beans, meat, lettuce, cheese, and salsa.

They do take a little bit of practice to get right, but once you get it, they are a breeze to make.

Let me show you what I’ve learned so far!

A freshly made sope shell in hand.

The sopes recipe that I’ve been happy with so far is simple.

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Combine those three together well until all the water has been absorbed into the corn flour. The consistency of the dough should be similar to playdough.

Preheat a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium-low heat.

Roll two tablespoons of the masa together to make a ball. Continue making more balls until you’ve used up all the masa. You should end up with 15. Cover them with a wet paper towel.

Masa for sopes rolled into balls then flattened between two sheets of parchment paper using a large pie dish.

Press one masa ball at a time between two sheets of parchment or plastic paper using a tortilla presser, large plate, or pie dish to make a 1/4″ thick disc. I find it easier to make three at a time instead of trying to press them all and risk letting the masa get dry. It’s important to keep the rest of the masa balls covered with a wet paper towel because it dries out easily.

Cook them for roughly one and a half minutes each side. Keep in mind, the time it takes to cook them depends on how hot you have your griddle. Start on medium-low and if that seems to be taking too long, turn up the heat to medium. You probably won’t need to go any hotter than that.

Masa discs cooking on a warm griddle then pinched at the edges to create a wall around the discs.

Once they start to puff up a little, they are done. If they don’t puff up, don’t worry, just make sure both sides are cooked.

Pinch the edges up as soon as you can once they are off the griddle. If you wait to do this until they are cold, the edges will not stay up. Trust me, do it as soon as you can.

I use a small dry paper towel to help keep me from burning my fingers.

Fresh made sope shells cooling on a dish towel in a shallow baking dish.

Keep them in a covered container with a clean dish towel until you are ready to layer your toppings on them.

For my sopes toppings, I used a baby arugula and spinach mix, sautéed sliced cremini mushrooms with green onion, garlic salt and ground coriander seed, topped with queso requesón and homemade salsa.

Sautéed mushrooms with green onions, coriander and garlic salt.

To make the mushrooms, heat one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

Cook 5 or 6 cups sliced cremini mushrooms with 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and 3 tablespoons sliced scallions.

Sauté the mushrooms for three minutes.

Homemade Sopes topped with baby arugula, spinach, requeson cheese, and red salsa.

Another way I prepared them was with a chopped salad mix from Costco, slow-cooked corned beef, queso fresco and homemade salsa.

Homemade sopes with chopped lettuce, slow-cooked shredded corned beef, queso fresco and red salsa.

I think I’ll make some breakfast sopes with my leftovers next.

What do you think? Do you have a creative topping combination in mind? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Recipe for sope shells

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 15 sopes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, salt and water together well until all the corn flour has been absorbed by the water. The consistency of the dough should be similar to playdough.

    Preheat a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium-low heat.

    Roll two tablespoons of the masa together to make a ball. Continue making more balls until you’ve used up all the masa. You should end up with 15. Cover them with a wet paper towel.

  2. Press one masa ball at a time between two sheets of parchment or plastic paper using a tortilla presser, large plate, or pie dish to make a 1/4″ thick disc. I find it easier to make three at a time instead of trying to press them all and risk letting the masa get dry. It’s important to keep the rest of the masa balls covered with a wet paper towel because they will break easier if the masa gets dry.

    Cook them for roughly one and a half minutes each side. Keep in mind, the time it takes to cook them depends on how hot you have your griddle. Start on medium-low and if that seems to be taking too long, turn up the heat to medium. You probably won’t need to go any hotter than that.

  3. Once they start to puff up a little, they are done. If they don’t puff up, don’t worry, just make sure both sides are cooked.

    Pinch the edges up as soon as you can once they are off the griddle. If you wait to do this until they are cold, the edges will not stay up. Trust me, do it as soon as you can.

    Use a small dry paper towel to pinch them if it's too hot. 

  4. Keep them in a covered container with a clean dish towel until you are ready to layer your toppings on them.