Erica's Cocina

Lets have some fun making some AWESOME and authentic Mexican Food

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas) November 19, 2010

It’s a chilly day here in Southern California, so I thought, what better thing to warm me up than a nice bowl of Sopa de Lentejas, or in English, Lentil Soup. There are probably a million different variations to this recipe. But I particulary love this one. Bacon and lentils go sooo well together, they should be married! Growing up, during the winter months we ate tons of soups. I love soups, they have tons of flavors, textures, and they satisfy the most hungry tummies. They are also so easy to play with and  make them your own ;O)

Lately, when I am recipe testing I also read up on the history of whatever dish I am making, if there is one. According to Wikipedia, Lentil Soup was once considered a food for the poor. Hmmm, little did they know that what they were eating was not only economical but is packed with vitamins and minerals. So go ahead, save some money and enjoy a fulfilling bowl of this soup ;O)


Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 40-50 minutes     Serves: 4-6



2 C. Dry Lentils

8 Slices of Center Cut Bacon

1/2 Onion

1 Garlic Minced

1 Jalapeno

2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Large Tomato

2 Qt. Veggie or Beef Broth

1/2 Tsp. Cumin Ground

3 Cilantro Sprigs



First off, you want to sort the lentils. Make sure to remove all debris that might have been left behind during packaging. Next, rinse the lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Now for the chopping….

Chop the tomato into small dices.


Chop the onion into small dices.


Cut the bacon into small pieces.


Now lets get to cooking :O)

Add bacon to medium heated pot and cook until crisp. Takes about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Once nice and crispy, remove and set aside in towels so they can drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. This will give your soup TONS of flavor!


To bacon dripping add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until onion transparent, 3-5 minutes. To the jalapeño, you want to do two little slits on it. Just enough to break the skin, but not slice through it. This will release the flavor without making it too spicy.


Add tomato and sauté until skin starts to loosen up, 3-5 minutes.


Add the reserved bacon and lentils. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together.


Add broth and cumin. Season to taste with salt if needed. Remember the broth already has salt in it so taste before adding some. I find many times, I don’t need to add salt. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to low. Add cilantro, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes or until lentils are tender. You will notice the fat from the bacon rise to the top during cooking. I usually remove this with a spoon half way though cooking and at the end. You want to have the bacon flavor but not all the grease ;O)


You are now ready to enjoy this delicious bowl of Lentil soup…

Buen Provecho!!!



Note: As mentioned earlier, there are tons of variations to this soup. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon, use olive oil to sauté the ingredients, and use veggie broth. Great add in are carrots, potatoes, celery. Go ahead and play with it. See what you come up with. One word of advise is when adding ingredients, make sure to chop them small. You don’t want them so big that they over power the lentils. Lets not forget, the lentils are the star of this dish ;O)

Frijoles de la Hoya (Beans in a pot) September 28, 2010

Frijoles de la hoya literally means, beans in a pot. You will find these beans in almost every Hispanic home. They are the foundation to an array of scrumptious dishes and they can also be enjoyed right out of the pot. I do this often ;O) Nothing better than a bowl of fresh frijoles de la hoya. When I was growing up, I could eat beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any complaints. Once you have these freshly made beans, you’ll never go back to those can beans again, trust me. Buen Provecho!


16oz or 2cups Dry Pinto Beans

8cups Cold Water

1 Garlic Clove



Sort beans by removing any debris and cracked beans. Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt.

In a pot, add beans, water, and garlic.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.

Add salt to personal taste and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes so the beans may absorb the flavor. Make sure not to add salt before the beans are tender. Adding the salt before will not let the beans become tender. You will end up with tough skin. No bueno ;O) Remove from heat. Refrigerate unused portion.

Now that you know how to make your own awesome Frijoles de la Hoya, you can go on and make tostadas, sopes, refried beans, etc, etc.  The possibilities are endless!



Chiles Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers) July 10, 2010

Chiles Rellenos, translated Stuffed Peppers, always remind me of when my family would get together during lent season. One person would char the peppers, another peel, another make the sauce, another beat the egg whites (we would use a fork to do this so you would really work our your arm, but you can use an electric whisk), etc. We would make tons of them so it was lots of work. Nonetheless, it brought brought us all together which was always a pleasure. Especially my grandmother and I, since we would be the one’s left with doing the  bulk of the work :o) I enjoyed every minute of it. Hope you enjoy making these yourself and create memories of your own. Beauty of this dish is that you can make one for yourself or a dozen for friends and family. FYI, these go really well with my Arroz Blanco ( Mexican White Rice). Buen Provecho!!

Serves: Two          Prep Time: 30 min          Cook Time: 10 min


2 Chiles pasillas

2 Slices queso cotija

2 Tomatoes

1 Garlic clove

1 Tsp dried oregano

2 Eggs seperate egg white and yolk

Olive oil or Vegetable oil

Salt to personal taste


Char peppers on a comal. Place in a plastic bag for 15 min. Remove from bag and peel skin.

Make a small slit on the side of the pepper, remove seeds and insert slice of cheese. Set aside. If you feel like they are going to fall apart you can thread a tooth pick in the slit to hold it together. I normally make a smaller slit but for picture purposes, I made it a little bigger here.

While the peppers are charring (to conserve time), in a small pot add tomatoes and garlic. Fill with enough water to cover the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-10 min uncovered. Add tomatos, salt, and oregano to blender and blend to a smooth puree.

In a mixing bowl, add egg whites and whip until fluffy. Add yolk and whip to blend well. Should be smooth and fluffy.

Ok, time to get cooking. After you get your sauce ready(directions below), your set up should look something like this to make sure the transitions go smoothly with out making too much of a mess.

In a medium heated pan add 1 tbsp of oil. Add onion and sauté onions until transparent. Add toamtoe sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer.

In another medium heated pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Dip both sides of pepper in the egg and  fry for 4 min on each side or until golden brown.

Drain in paper towel and place pepper in the simmering tomato sauce. Once all the peppers are in the pan, let simmer for an additional 10 min to let the flavors marry.

Buen Provecho!!


Caldo de Camarón (Shrimp Soup) April 9, 2010

I love Caldo de Camarón, or shrimp soup in English ;0) This is one of those dishes that my family and I usually make during the Lent season and in the winter time. It is made with tons of veggies so not only is it delicious but it is also good for you. Another plus is that it doesn’t take too much time to make so you can enjoy anytime of the year.

Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes     Servings: 4-6


5 C. Water

3 Carrots

¼ C. Onion

1 Chayote

5 Celery Sticks

2 Potatoes

1 Calabacita (Italian Squash)

1 Tomato

1-8oz Can of El Pato Sauce (or other spicy sauce)

1-16oz Can of Garbanzo Beans

1/3 C. Chopped Cilantro

1½ lbs. Large Shrimp


Chop carrots, onion, chayote, celery, calabacitas, tomato, and potatoes into small dices. Set aside. Chop cilantro and set aside. Open can of garbanzo beans. Drain, remove skin, and rinse. Set aside.

In a pot, add water and salt to personal taste. Let boil. Add carrots, onion, chayote, and celery. Bring to boil. Let boil for 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, calabacitas, tomato, garbanzo beans, El Pato sauce, and cilantro. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Bring to boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Add shrimp and taste again. Add more salt if needed. Bring to broil. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Serve while hot with slices of lime on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

Note: If you do not want the soup to be spicy, just add a can of tomato sauce instead. Also, if chayote cannot be found in your local market then you can just use the calabacitas and vice versa. But use 2 instead of 1.


Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice January 29, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

Prep/ Cook time: ~1 hour              Servings: 6-8      Type: Main dish


2 Chicken Breasts

2 ½ inch slices of onion (1 for chicken, 1 for enchilada sauce)

Salt to personal taste

California chili pods: ½ a 3 ounce bag.

1 Garlic clove

1 Tsp dry oregano

Half of an iceberg lettuce finely chopped

Cotija cheese

Mexican sour cream or sour cream is fine

Salsa roja as desired


Wash chicken breasts thoroughly. Place in pot, add enough water to cover breast and bring to boil (this will get rid of any yucky stuff left in the chicken). In another pot, bring to boil about a quart of water. Transfer chicken from first pot as soon as it starts to boil. Bring to boil. Add slice of onion and salt to taste. Let boil uncovered for 20 minutes. Let your sense of smell embraces the chicken and onion fragrance.

Place chicken breast in a plate and let them cool down. Shred chicken. Set aside.

In another pot, add California chili pods (another one of my favorite scents), garlic, and onion. Add water to cover the chilis. Boil for 10 minutes. In a blender, add chilis, onion, garlic, oregano, salt to taste, and water used to boil the chilis in. Puree and transfer in to a 6in bowl. Set aside.

Your set up should look something like this to make it easier for you. I also have the rice and salsa ingredients cooking while I’m making the enchiladas to buy some time.

In a pan, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Heat up oil using low/ medium heat. Dip both sides of the tortilla in the tasty enchilada sauce you just made. Place the tortilla in the pan. Cook for about a minute and then turn over using spatula. Cook for another minute. The oil will run low, depending on the amount of enchiladas you are making. Add oil as needed. Try not to overcook the tortilla, you just want to soften it not make it crunchy. Transfer it to a plate, add whatever amount of chicken you desire and roll up. You can use a fork to assist you so you do not burn your little fingers. Now put it in a serving dish lined with napkins to catch the extra grease. Continue to do this for as many enchiladas you want to make. Unused enchilada sauce can be stored in the fridge for about a week or you can discard unused portion or use it alllll up ;O) which is what I usually do.

Now for the Mexican Rice


1 Cup white rice

1/3 Cup chopped onion

1 Garlic clove

1 Large tomato diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Cups of water

1 ½ Tbsp chicken flavor bouillon


Dice tomato and onion. Leave garlic whole. I like to put it in whole. Just make sure you take it out when rice is done so nobody bites into it :O)

Wash rice until water runs clear and set aside in colander to let dry. Chop onion and tomato. Set aside. Add a tbsp of olive oil to pan. Add rice and garlic clove to hot oil; cook until lightly browned in low/med heat. Add onion and cook until transparent.

Add tomato and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and bouillon. Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Heat covered for 20 minutes. This is what your beautiful and tasty end result will look like.

Now to bring it all together :O)

In a plate, place the amount of enchiladas you and your guest want to eat. On top, garnish with lettuce, Mexican sour cream, cotija cheese, and salsa. Rice on the side. Hasta la proxima!!

Buen provecho!


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