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Homemade Sopes with Refried Black Beans

Sopes! This classic Mexican dish can best be described as a thick corn tortilla topped with all kinds of deliciousness. Homemade sopes have all the wonderful flavors of a freshly-made tortilla. But even better.

People often ask me where I get recipe inspiration, and here it came from my favorite all-vegan Mexican restaurant called Gracias Madre that has long been a staple of San Francisco vegan dining. I stopped by a few weeks ago while visiting the area and had ‘Sopes Con Piña’ which were sopes topped with guacamole, red cabbage, spicy pineapple puree, and cashew cream drizzled over top. Woah. Excitingly, Gracias just opened a second location in Southern California nearby and I cannot wait to visit the new place.

The ones we’re making here don’t have pineapple puree (unfortunately), but they’re still quite delicious. Ours are topped with mouthwatering refried black beans, guacamole, and lettuce. It’s a perfect combo, but feel free to try any other toppings that inspire you.

Sopes

Makes ~10 large sopes (3+ servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups water
  • 2+ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 1/3 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

sopes

Step One

Homemade refried beans are so delicious. If you want to start with dried beans in a slow cooker, I have a tutorial on that. But I often start with canned beans to make things even faster. Simply add 1/3 a finely-diced white onion with 2 cloves of minced garlic to a pan with a splash of water. Once softened, add 2 cups (1 16 oz can) of black beans and use a fork or potato masher to fully mash these beans. Throw in another 1 cup of beans and leave these unmashed. Add a pinch of salt and allow to simmer over low heat (stirring occasionally) as you prepare the sopes…

Step Two

Combine the masa harina (which is cornmeal + the mineral lime) and water in a large bowl and mix. For this, you’ll absolutely need to use my all-time favorite kitchen tool: your hands. Squeeze the dough until it’s completely uniform and will stick together when rolled into balls. If it’s too crumbly, add a little more water.

Step Three

Break off chunks of this dough and roll into balls about the size of golf balls. Then, flatten between two layers of parchment paper with a large flat surface (like a cutting board) on top until the flat rounds are about 1/4 inch thick. It is also very common to make smaller sopes as appetizers and finger foods – that’s a perfectly valid option as well.

Note: Traditional sopes have a slight lip that is curved upwards like a very shallow bowl. You can form them like this, but the problem comes when cooking – you’ll need considerably more oil to reach the curved edges. By making them completely flat, the whole surface is in contact with the pan and we only need a light dusting of oil.

Step Four

Heat a large pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2-3 sopes to the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until slightly, gorgeously browned. It’s absolutely essential to serve these within minutes of cooking – as soon as they cool, they won’t be nearly as moist, crispy, or delicious. You can save the first batches in a 190º oven until the remainder are finished cooking.

Step Five

With everything finished, it’s time to plate! Add 2-3 sopes to a plate, smother them with guacamole, add a little chopped romaine lettuce, and spoon on a layer of black beans. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves and/or any type of salsa.

Variation: The refried black beans are amazing on these sopes… but as I was making them, I couldn’t help but think of the mushrooms from my setas taco recipe, which would be another perfect topping.

Homemade Sopes

20 Comments

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  1. Yum – love this!

    It’s also awesome if you make the tortillas a little thinner and put the beans inside then another tortilla on top and seal the edges. Cook them the same way (skillet no oil works too) then they’re more along the lines of a pupusa.

    • That’s an awesome idea too! I’ve never made a pupusa before… I’ll have to try that soon. Thanks for the suggestion, Cassie!

  2. I am not really familiar with Mexican cooking, so I have never heard of sopes before, but yours look fantastic and sound so good, I want to run to the kitchen right now and make them (eventhough I’d have to buy masa harina first). The spicy pineapple puree sounds really good too.
    The Mexican restaurants here are not that great, so if I want something that I like I have to make it myself.

    • Hey Lena! That’s usually the way it works – homemade is always better! (except for Gracias Madre, of course) 🙂

  3. The masa harina I’ve bought here in far northern Maine tasted stale to me, although I’d never used it before. Would cornmeal alone suffice?

  4. These were so much easier to make than I expected. We loved the flavors so much we made them 3x in a week, then we ran out of avocados 🙁 so now we are going shopping…we are problem solvers….Thanks for this great idea and recipe

    • Hahaha, I love that! 🙂 Aren’t they easy? It seems so daunting and complicated to make your own tortillas, but it’s really so simple. So glad you liked them, Reese!

  5. YUM! I’ve been having this recipe on my mind since you posted it. Finally got hold of Maseca from the supermarket and made it today. But I found that the flour was quite finicky to work with. It was very crumbly and when I added water, it just got really soggy and stuck to my hands. I tried my best to press it as much as possible with my hands. It tasted great but also wasn’t as beautifully golden as yours. Which brand of masa did you use? I must have these golden sopes! Lol thank you for the wonderful recipe 🙂

    • That’s really interesting, Ruchi. The masa I used was virtually foolproof. It was so easy to work with and came out just right. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand but I can’t imagine that would make a big difference. The only thing I can think is that maybe you added too much water after it was crumbly? 1-2 tablespoons can go a long ways.

  6. I just made these tonight, and they were delicious! My omnivore husband, who was a little skeptical before trying them, asked me to forward the recipe to him after trying them. Such a great combination of tastes and textures.

  7. Sopes hmmm delicious! I’m very happy you have this recipe! Is a Mexican recipe made easy…. I’m Mexican and we make these sopes once in a while… The only difference is we don’t fry them yup I said it “we don’t fry them.” Well not all Mexican do it… Instead of frying them we heat them up like a tortilla on a cast iron griddle and as soon as they come out we pinch the sides in an upward position to make them look like a bowl…. The secret is to have the griddle on medium heat and make sure its really hot before you put the sopes on it. Once again thank you for your wonderful recipes! I want to try all of them!

    Thank you,
    Mimi

    • Hi Mimi, thanks for this – it’s interesting to hear that they can be heated without using oil. I have a cast iron griddle and I’m really looking forward to trying this.

  8. My daughter in law is from Mexico. The curved lip on the sope is important; it keeps all of the ingredients in. To get the curved lip, cook the sope, as soon as it comes out of the pain, pinch the edges up. Careful though, its kind of like working with a hot potato. Also, she never uses oil in the pan. A hot cast iron works very well.

  9. These were great! I had eaten restaurant sopes before, but I had forgotten about them. I’m so glad to have come across this recipe. It jogged some great memories. I had no idea how easy and quick these are to make. I would say it took about three minutes to mix up the dough, and about ten minutes to cook all the sopes. I did make two changes – 1) I added salt to the dough just for some additional flavor since I planned to eat one or two without toppings, and 2) I cooked them on a non-stick griddle sans oil. Granted, you will lose some texture and flavor value if you don’t fry the sopes. The frying gives a crispy crust to the chewy dough that the dry griddle cannot duplicate. Plus, fried dough = delicious! However, the bonus to skipping the oil is that the cooking odors keep to a minimum, and you can save a few calories if you prefer. I’ll definitely make these again. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

    • Awesome, Miss B! Thank you so much for these comments, I’ve actually heard that sopes without oil can be really tasty and you’ve just convinced me to try it this week 🙂 I’m really happy you enjoyed them!!

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