We all knew when Mom was making Sopita. The savory smell would waft through the air and we came running. Some liked it soupy, some liked it chunky, some hot, some cold the next day. Mom made it for always every family gathering because her Dad made it for them as kids.

When I got married, I needed to learn to make it for myself…. errrr, I mean… for my family. (No, I meant for myself. Like eating it under a blanket with a flashlight).

“Sopita,” literally translated means “little soup” in Spanish. Come to find out, this term is used broadly among other Mexican families for any favorite family dish. It’s like a love word for something delicious. Mom remembers growing up with hot sopita and beans from la olla (“the pot” – pronounced oy-ya). She says it’s usually made without the cheese, but she added it for extra goodness.

Simple ingredients that pack a lot of flavor into this alternative to Mac n’ Cheese. I hope your family enjoys this as much as we do!
I grew up making it with chicken bouillon cubes, but if you want to cut down on the sodium, use liquid chicken broth or this Better than Bouillon brand. Costco carries the large jars. I also find that it’s better to mix the spices all together in hot water before pouring into the pan.
Print Recipe
Mexican Shells & Cheese ("Sopita")
A family favorite, you might never go back to the regular stuff after you try this Mexican Mac n' Cheese alternative.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Pasta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz bag or box small pasta shells or 2 - 7 oz. bags
  • 6 cups chicken broth or 6 boullion cubes diluted in 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese we like the cheddar / jack mix
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Pasta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz bag or box small pasta shells or 2 - 7 oz. bags
  • 6 cups chicken broth or 6 boullion cubes diluted in 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese we like the cheddar / jack mix
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a 3" deep pan; pour in dry shells and mix in oil to brown
  2. Pour in tomato sauce; mix to cover shells in sauce
  3. Pour in chicken broth with spices
  4. Stir to unstick shells from the pan; bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until shells are done. Uncover to allow broth to evaporate a little, as it condenses the flavor.
  5. Stir shells, consistency should be slightly soupy. Allow to evaporate more for less soup. Turn off heat.
  6. Top with cheddar cheese as desired or over top of the pan. Enjoy!
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