This restorative Gallina Pinta soup was first introduced to me by my friend (and excellent cook) Karla. Her family is from Baja Norte, Mexico, a neighbor to Sonora where this soup is from.
Not only is Karla skilled in the kitchen, but she’s also a mom to two kids the same ages as mine. I’d had a particularly long stretch of meals I thought were delicious but my kids had been less than thrilled about and I went to her for advice.
“Make them Gallina Pinta!” She said.
“Gallina what?!” I replied, wondering what in the world a dish called Painted Chicken could possibly be. She explained that the name has nothing to do with the ingredients of the soup and more about the white and brown speckles of hominy and pinto beans that resemble the feathers of a chicken, and most importantly, that her kids LOVE it.
As always, she was right. This beef soup with a big hit of lime has been on constant rotation at our house ever since. The terracotta-colored broth is rich and meaty, long-simmered with tender beef cheek and oxtails.
Rumba Meats Beef Cheekmeat and Beef Oxtails make an intense and deep broth. This minimalist soup with the simple flavoring of white onion, garlic, and green anaheim pepper is soft and uncluttered allowing the meat to shine through.
The finishing touch to the soup is the bounty of garnishes that get served with it. In my opinion, the soup is not ready until you’ve squeezed a fat lime wedge into your bowl and topped it with fragrant cilantro leaves and crushed chiltepin.
What You Need To Make Gallina Pinta
The ingredients to make Gallina Pinta are nothing short of classic Mexican cooking at its best. It hits all the notes, hunks of rich beef, creamy pinto beans, chewy hominy, and aromatic vegetables. Here’s what you’ll need:
● Rumba Meats Beef Cheekmeat
● Rumba Meats Beef Oxtails
● White Onion
● Anaheim Pepper or other mild green pepper
● Pinto Beans
● Cumin seeds
How To Cook Beef Cheekmeat
If you’ve never cooked Beef cheekmeat before, you are in for a real treat. The melt-in-your-mouth tender meat is succulent and rich and very easy to cook. The best ways to prepare it are to braise it over low, slow heat or gently simmer the meat like in this soup.
● Thaw Rumba Beef Cheekmeat overnight in the refrigerator, if frozen.
● Remove from packaging and place in the pot.
● Bring to a boil with the other soup ingredients. Skim off any foam that comes to the top and lower heat so broth is gently simmering.
● When the meat is ready it will easily pull away from the sinew (which you can discard).
● Return hunks of meat to the soup.
How To Cook Beef Oxtails
This traditional cut of meat is made into soup all over the world for good reason—beef oxtails make the deepest, richest, broth. Rumba Meats beef oxtails are cut into 2-inch pieces, sliced through the bone which exposes the inner marrow—essential for creating a broth vibrating with flavor. You cook the oxtails in the same way as the beef cheekmeat, which is why they are the perfect partners for Gallina Pinta soup.
● Thaw Rumba Beef Oxtails overnight in the refrigerator if frozen.
● Remove from packaging and place in the pot.
● Bring to a boil with the other soup ingredients. Skim off any foam that comes to the top and then lower heat so broth is gently simmering.
● Here’s what’s different from the cheekmeat: The oxtails provide the viscosity of the soup that gives it that rich mouthfeel from the bone marrow, but not a ton of actual meat. The oxtails are ready when the meat around the bone easily pulls away from the bone.
● You can pull the meat off and save the bone to make beef broth later or serve the soup with the whole bones.
How To Make Gallina Pinta Soup
This soup is really about as simple as they come, but here are a few tips to help you out.
Here’s how to make this easy Gallina Pinta soup:
1. Soak the dried pinto beans overnight. This will cut down on cooking time. You can also use canned pinto beans instead. Add the canned pinto beans at the end with the hominy.
2. Toast the cumin seeds to bring out their fragrance and flavor. Place them in a dry frying pan and heat the pan over medium heat. Shake the pan often as they toast. Once you can smell their lemony scent and the color of the seeds start to change, remove them immediately from the pan to a plate to cool. If you leave them in the pan they will burn and become bitter.
3. The vegetables just need to be cleaned, peeled, (remove the stems and seeds from the peppers), and then cut in half. They will all get blended together later.
4. Combine the two kinds of meat, onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and cumin seeds in a very large stock pot (mine is 11 quarts). Add water and bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Skim off any foam that rises to the top with a ladle. Throw the foam away in the garbage.
6. Lower the heat until the broth is gently simmering. Cover with a lid and let simmer over low heat for an hour.
7. Add soaked pinto beans and cook for another hour or until meat and beans are tender.
8. Remove meat to a large platter and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and sinew, then return to the pot.
9. While you are waiting for the meat to cool, remove the vegetables with tongs and place in a blender. Blend on low until smooth. Return to the pot.
10. Add hominy (and canned beans if you are using them) and let cook for another 20 minutes.
11. Season with salt and pepper. Taste the soup and salt until the broth coats your mouth and you can taste all the flavors shine through.
12. Don’t forget the garnishes! Chop fresh cilantro, cut lime wedges, make a fresh pico de gallo salsa if you’d like for the top. It is traditional to serve this soup with miniature dried Chiltepin crushed on top.
Check out the full recipe below!
For The Soup:
- 1 pound Rumba® Beef Oxtails
- 3 pounds Rumba Meats Beef Cheekmeat
- 1 cup dried pinto beans
- 3 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 white onions, peeled and halved
- 2 green anaheim peppers, or other mild green peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
- 16 cups (4 quarts) water
- 1 (25-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt or more to taste
For The Garnish:
- Lime wedges
- Chopped Cilantro
- Chilitepin, crushed
- Pico de Gallo
To Prep The Beans:
- Rinse the dried beans in a colander then place in a bowl. Cover with water and soak overnight.
To Make The Soup:
- Combine oxtail, cheekmeat, tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, cumin seed, and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim foam off the top and discard, then reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 1 hour.
- Drain beans and add to the soup. Cover and simmer for another hour or until beans and meat are tender.
To Shred The Meat:
- Remove meat to a large platter with tongs and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull meat away from the sinew of the beef cheek. Discard the sinew and fat.
- For the oxtail: You can either serve the soup with the oxtails intact or remove the meat from the oxtail and save the bones to make broth later.
- Return meat to the soup pot.
To Blend The Vegetables:
- Remove the vegetables with tongs and place in a blender. Blend on low with the lid slightly ajar, then increase the speed to medium until the mixture is smooth. Return the mixture to the soup pot.
- Add hominy and salt and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Taste soup and add more salt if needed.
- Ladle soup into bowls and pass garnishes at the table. Soup is best with a big squeeze of lime, cilantro, and chiltepin.