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Sopa de mondongo is a Latin American and Caribbean soup option that uses tripe, or the stomach of a cow. This kind of soup is common in many areas, from islands like Aruba, to mainland destinations in South or Central America; many of these localities have their own common ingredients and methods for this soup. Commonly, the tripe is mixed with vegetables and other elements to create a thick, hearty soup. Ingredients like citrus juice and various herbs may provide color and flavor.
In cooking sopa de mondongo, chefs can use either beef or pork stomach, though the beef stomach may predominate in some culinary communities. Generally, the cooks trim fat from the tripe in order to lower the overall fat content of the soup. The tripe is then put, with a few other simple elements, into water and simmered for a long time. Cooks might simmer the mixture for up to two hours to get the tripe to be soft and tender rather than chewy and tough. In some recipes, other animal products are also added, such as bone marrow or other otherwise less edible parts.
Other elements of the sopa de mondongo dish include various vegetables. Many cooks use onions and peppers, where these might be sautéed before placing them into the soup later in the cooking process. This gives cooks more control over the exact amount of cooking that changes the color and texture of the vegetables. The same technique might be applied to potatoes, squash and other vegetables that often get included in sopa de mondongo. In addition, some cooks will add more exotic elements to the soup, such an entire ear of corn. Carrots are another frequent addition that adds bright color to the dish.
In many recipes for sopa de mondongo, the tripe makes its own base, thickening the soup a bit, and giving it a hearty taste. Cooks do not have to add chicken or beef stock, though some might add this to the recipe if they feel that a more robust base is needed. Either way, the soup generally ends up having a substantial, colorful base that compliments the solid ingredients well. This dish is a favorite in reviews of Latin American food, and illustrates some of the popular principles of cooking in this region.
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