Fideo has a thousand mothers, each claiming primacy. One mujere insists that tomatoes are the most crucial ingredient while another claims that the inclusion of them makes the soup "not fideo" but indeed, the dish must include tomatillas to be considered part of the canon..

We're late comers to the sopa de fideo tradition. It wasn't until the late 90's when a torrid affair found us in Brownsville Texas and at the table of a bona fide culinary genius that we were indoctrinated into the tradition.

Efiginea was born in Mexico but has lived in USA for over 50 years. She's raised 9 children and has countless grandkids and great grandkids. In a family filled with good cooks, this septuagenarian is still the Queen Bee.

When we're in the presence of superior chefs one course of action must be taken. Out comes the pad and pen and the note taking commences. As Efiginea bustles about in the kitchen we scribble furiously hoping against all hope that we'll be able to create a reasonable facsimile of this vaunted recipe at some point in the future.

Here's Sope de Fideo, inspired by Efiginea of Brownsville Texas

Ingredients

1 6 oz packet vermicelli noodles

1 bunch celery

2 each 12 oz cans tomatoes, whole, peeled [ pureed or roughly chopped as to your preference]

1 roasting hen

2 each Onion, yellow, sweet, chopped

8 oz Mushrooms, sliced

1 Bunch, Green onions, giant, chopped

6 each Chiles, Hatch, chopped [poblano would be more traditional]

2 each Chiles, Cayenne, chopped [jalapeno would be more traditional]

4 each Leaves, Bay

1 T. Peppercorns, Black

Salt

Method

* In large kettle submerge chicken in cold, salted water with bay leaves and peppercorns

* Bring to boil, reduce to simmer

* Cook one hour or til chicken is done

* Remove hen from water, reserve water

* Shred meat off bone, reserve

* Return carcass to water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cook 2 hours

* Remove carcass, discard along with bay and pepper, you now have your chicken stock

* In separate pan cook onions on high heat for 15 minutes

* Reduce heat, cook for 45 minutes more

* Add celery and chiles cook 15 minutes

* Add green onions and mushrooms, cook 10 minutes

* Add onion, celery,chile, mushroom mixture to chicken stock along with tomatoes, vermicelli and chopped chicken

* Simmer everything on stovetop til vermicelli puffs up in broth

* Adjust flavor with salt

* Intense deliciousness is now at the ready

* Buen Provecho

Cooking notes:

1] I later discovered that it is traditional to fry the noodles in oil or butter prior to their being simmered in the broth. Efiginea did not follow this technique.

2] Also, a lot of fideo cooks add pinto beans, potatoes or both to their fideo. Efiginea added neither to hers.

3] There is also the phenomenon of fideo tacos where the fideo is cooked "down" to the point where the soup is viscous, the noodles are then ladled onto tortillas and served as tacos.

4] Typical garnishes for this soup include avocado, crema, lime juice, chopped fresh onion, cilantro, hard grating cheese and fried tortilla strips

5] There is also the phenomenon of fideo casserole, an intriguing dish if ever there was one and definitely a subject for another post in the future

How do you make your fideo?

Did you grow up eating it or are you new to the canon?

earlier installments in our Tex Mex cooking series http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/Authentic