Nibbles and Feasts »

Menu Menu

Chacales (or Chuales) Soup for Lent | Sopa de Chacales (o Chuales) para la Cuaresma


Lent season is in full swing.  This year, I just had to make chacales soup.  Their rustic taste and look take me way back to when I spent Cuaresma Fridays at my grandmother’s house in Mexico.  No meat.  Nada de carne.

On two Fridays during the forty days of the season, we cooked for the entire neighborhood (and then some).  Sometimes lentils, sometimes capirotada, sometimes tuna patties and sometimes chacales soup.  Preparing chacales was my favorite part of the process because my job was to clean and rinse the white pebbled corn; a tough job for an 8 year old handling and rinsing 20 lbs. of grains in a giant pot full of water.  I loved it.

Plates in hand, our neighborhood friends lined up  anxiously waiting for their share of a steaming hot bowl of chacales. With a smile, a”thank you” or a “Dios me la bendiga,” they walked away knowing they were in for something amazing.

I miss those days.  Preparing and eating this hearty bowl of pure comfort brings back so many wholesome memories in Mexico.

This year, I made it a point to search for chacales and serve them to my family. There had to be a store in Los Angeles where I could find them.  If I could find rompope, I could find chacales.


I searched high and low and finally found both varieties, yellow and white,  in a small market near Carson, California.

Chacales are very popular in the state of Chihuahua during Lenten season.  It’s a peasant dish of cooked dried corn.  Chacales are also called Chuales in Coahuila, the state in Mexico where I am from.

I’ve also heard the term “Chacales” refer to dried prawns, so don’t get confused.  Both dishes are also popular during this time of the year.

White chacales are the traditional variety.  I had never cooked yellow so I figured, “what the heck, let’s cook both.”


Chacales or Chuales Soup for Lent | Chacales o Chuales para la Cuaresma

Yield: Serves 6

Chacales or Chuales Soup for Lent | Chacales o Chuales para la Cuaresma


  • 2 cups white or yellow chacales (or chuales)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 medium onion, choped in large pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 2 tbsp frying oil


  1. Rinse chacales in cold water.
  2. In a large pot, add water and boil over medium to high heat. Add chacales and reduce heat. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes until chacales become soft. Set aside and do not drain water.
  3. In a blender, blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato sauce and chicken bouillon powder.
  4. Heat oil in a large sauce pan and carefuly transfer the tomato mixture on to the sauce pan. Fry for 5-7 minutes and add to softened chacales.
  5. Heat over low to medium heat for 10 more minutes and add salt to taste (if needed).
  6. Serve hot.

Otra vez… en español!

La temporada de la Cuaresma está en pleno apogeo. Este año, tenía que hacer la sopa chacales. Su sabor y aspecto rústico me hace recordar los viernes de Cuaresma en casa de mi abuela en México. Sin falta, seguíamos la regla de no comer carne.

Dos viernes durante los cuarenta días de la temporada, cocinábamos para todo el barrio. A veces hacíamos, lentejas, o capirotada, a veces tortitas de atún, o sopa de chacales. El proceso de la preparación de los chacales era mi favorito, ya que mi trabajo consistía en limpiar y lavar el maíz blanco.  Era una tarea muy difícil para una niña de 8 años, enjuagando 20 libras de grano en una olla gigante llena de agua. Me encantaba.

Con plato en la mano, nuestros amigos de la vecindad se formaban en fila esperando ansiosamente su porción de sopa calientita de chacales. Con una sonrisa, un “gracias” o un “Dios me la bendiga,” se dirigían a sus casas a comer algo increíble.

Extrañó esos días. El preparar y comer este plato tan delicioso me trae muchos recuerdos tan sanos de México.

Este año, mi objetivo era la búsqueda y preparación de chacales y servirlos a mi familia. Tenía que haber una tienda en Los Ángeles en donde podía encontrarlos. Si pude encontrar rompope, puedo encontrar chacales.

Busqué en todas partes y, finalmente, encontré dos variedades, blanco y amarillo, en un pequeño mercado cerca de Carson, California.

Chacales son muy populares en el estado de Chihuahua durante la temporada de Cuaresma. Es un plato campesino de maíz seco cocinado. Chacales también se les llama Chuales en Coahuila, el estado de México de donde soy.

También he oído el término “Chacales” refiriéndose a langostinos secos, así que no se confundan. Ambos platos son también muy populares en esta época del año.

Los chacales blancos son los tradicionales. Yo nunca había cocinado el amarillo, así que intente cocinar los dos.

Sopa de Chacales (o Chuales)
2 tazas de chacales blanco o amarillo (o chuales).  Yo use 1 taza de cada variedad
4 tazas de agua
2 jitomates, picados en trozos grandes
1 cebolla mediana, picada en trozos grandes
1 diente de ajo, picado en trozos grandes
1-8 oz de salsa de tomate
1 1/2 cucharadas de caldo de pollo en polvo
2 cucharadas de aceite para freír
Enjuaga los chacales en agua fría.

En una olla grande, añada agua y hierve a fuego medio-alto. Agrega los  chacales y reduzca el fuego. Deja cocinar a fuego lento durante 30-40 minutos hasta que se ablanden los chacales. Pon a un lado y no drenes el agua.

Licua los jitomates, la cebolla, el ajo, salsa de tomate y el caldo de pollo en polvo.

Calienta el aceite en una cacerola grande y cuidadosamente transfiere la mezcla de tomate en la sartén. Fríe durante 5-7 minutos y añada la salsa a los a chacales blandos con agua.

Calienta a fuego medio-lento por unos 10 minutos y agrega la sal al gusto (si es necesario).

Sirve caliente.

Rinde 6 porciones

  • SujeiryMarch 13, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Looks pretty…if I only knew what chacales were! Maybe there’s a Dominican word for it I’m not familiar with.ReplyCancel

    • MaliceJune 7, 2012 - 8:23 pm

      Can you use white popping corn (the stuff you make popcorn with)?ReplyCancel

  • Presley's PantryMarch 13, 2012 - 5:16 pm

    I’ve never had this…. would love to try it…. I like that your birds switched position from one photo to the next! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Itzel YagualMarch 13, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    This looks very interesting/colorful! Would love to try…never had dried corn this way before!ReplyCancel

  • Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™March 14, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    never heard of chacales either.. i love learning about food i’ve never made… or eaten for that mater. since, it’s corn, i can’t imagine it being a bad dish at all!ReplyCancel

  • Veronica of Muy Bueno CookbookMarch 16, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I love chacales but haven’t had them since I was a little girl. My grandma used to make these during Lenten season. I can smell them over the screen. gracias.ReplyCancel

  • ileanaApril 3, 2012 - 8:15 am

    I found the dried yellow corn on an asian store, in chinese! (OK it has a label in English that says “corn grit ” ) I’m going to try cook’em today but I’m glad to hear the yellow variety works as well as the traditional one. (I’m a halfie from Chihahua/DF)ReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsApril 3, 2012 - 10:35 am

      So glad you found them! Let me know how it turns out 🙂ReplyCancel

  • hillaryApril 8, 2012 - 2:35 pm

    One question….do you blend the tomato/onion mixture in a blender, or just “blend” as in mix it before frying? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsApril 8, 2012 - 9:36 pm

      Hi Hillary,
      Thanks for catching that. Yes, blend in a blender first. 😉ReplyCancel

  • ArleneMarch 26, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    haven’t had these since grandma used to make them. Can’t find the dried corn. Can You tell me where you found yours.ReplyCancel

  • antonio cid jrSeptember 19, 2013 - 9:09 am

    My mom was talking bout making some chacales to eat, I was like what’s that? So I decided to look it up online.looks good. But now don’t know where they sell chacales in Chicago to make or buy.can you help us please. Thanx 😉ReplyCancel

  • Gloria MartinezOctober 16, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    What store or market in Los Angeles, Ca did you find the chacales?ReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsOctober 16, 2013 - 1:58 pm

      Hi Gloria,
      I found them in the city of Carson. The name of the market is called Numero Uno Market. Thanks for visiting!ReplyCancel

    • AnaLuisaApril 1, 2015 - 2:58 pm

      in San Pedro Numero uno market on 5 and pacificReplyCancel

  • Mia AmiconeJanuary 28, 2014 - 10:44 pm

    One of my all time favorite. We (my family) call them “chuales” as you also mention. I always look forward to having them during lent. Craving them now :/ReplyCancel

  • claudia udaveMarch 19, 2014 - 7:31 am

    puedo usar maiz seco para pozole y cortarlo en molinoReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsMarch 19, 2014 - 10:35 am

      Si, Claudia. Muy buena idea! Saludos.ReplyCancel

  • Cecilia VarelaMarch 19, 2014 - 9:46 am

    We always had these in El Paso, Tx. during lent. Now I cannot find them anywhere in Phoenix where we have lived over 40 yrs. When my mother was alive, she would bring us some but then they disappeared in El Paso as well. Have looked in so-called Hispanic stores to no avail. They used to come in a green can with a lid like Hershey`s powdered chocolate comes in. We used to make them with red chile like menudo.ReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsMarch 19, 2014 - 10:36 am

      Really, Cecilia? I have only been able to find these in this store. Not even when I lived in El Paso could I find them. Thanks for visiting!ReplyCancel

      • Cecilia VarelaMarch 19, 2014 - 12:54 pm

        Hi, Just went to a local Chinese store that sells Goya products. I found a bag of dried hominy corn in both white and yellow. I`m going to try the yellow and will let you know if they are the same. They look the same only maybe a little bigger.ReplyCancel

  • Cecilia VarelaMarch 22, 2014 - 2:49 pm

    Hi, made the product I found, Goya`s corn (hominy) which is like the one pictured in your recipe. It is not like the one we could get in El Paso. The corn gets too big after it is cooked, but does certainly look like yours. Going to add some pork ribs to it and make pozole just so it is not wasted.ReplyCancel

    • nibblesandfeastsMarch 24, 2014 - 10:20 am

      That’s great, Cecilia! I’m so glad you were able to improvise. It’s a delicious soup.ReplyCancel

  • sweetpeaspicesMarch 25, 2014 - 11:14 am

    Hi, I was doing research Chicailes and came across your blog. Your recipe looks so delicious and I’m going to try it out on Friday!

    We are a supplier of Mexican Herbs & Spices. We supply Chicales both locally and online through Ebay and Amazon. I wanted to learn more about the product for our listing. We sell our product as Chicales. Is Chacales & Chuales just other names for broken corn?
    -SweetPea Spices

    ps-I noticed a lot of people aren’t able to find Chicales in their area and strangely I couldn’t find any for sale online. We are a supplier and would love the shout out! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • LupitaApril 18, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    My family always makes them during Lent. My father would the corn on the cob when is just past eaing fresh cook it & then scrape the kernels & put the in the sun to dry. During Lent every single Friday would make them. She added red chile instead of tomatoes & minced cilantro. They are so yummy & a very unique dish.ReplyCancel

  • wendyMarch 6, 2015 - 8:19 am

    Y al final anades queso jack y sale deliciosoooReplyCancel

    • Ericka SanchezMarch 7, 2015 - 1:00 pm

      Que rico! Voy a intentar agregarles queso!ReplyCancel

  • raul sanchez navarroSeptember 5, 2015 - 8:06 pm

    Soy originario de Allende Coahuila,allà también se llaman chicales, mi mamà los preparaba ma`s o menos así como dices pero además guisaba aparte huevos revuetos ,los hacìa pequeños pedacitos y los agegaba a la sopa…….una deliciaReplyCancel

    • Ericka SanchezSeptember 6, 2015 - 10:00 am

      Hola Raul! Nunca los he probado con huevo revuleto, que rico. Lo voy a intentar. Saludos paisano!ReplyCancel

  • JessicaJanuary 6, 2016 - 8:24 pm

    Erika sounds like you had a wonderful childhood surrounded by a wonderful family and friends! Oh and yummy meals! Thanks for sharing ReplyCancel

    • Ericka SanchezJanuary 6, 2016 - 11:42 pm

      Hi Jessica,
      Yes, so many great memories. Thank you for stopping by!
      Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *