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.
Makes ~10 large sopes (3+ servings)
- 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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.