Recipes » Soups » Nopal Cactus Soup
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

Nopal cactus is also known as the prickly pear cactus, which is native to México. Nopales have been eaten as a vegetable since the time of the Aztecs in different pre-Hispanic dishes. It can be eaten cooked or raw and used in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews, tacos and salads.


  • 2 pounds of nopales, cleaned and cubed
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • ¼ white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Toppings

  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • WFPB sour cream


  • 1. Cook nopales in boiling salted water for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the nopales are tender yet firm.
  • 2. Place the tomatoes, onion, chipotle pepper, and garlic cloves in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • 3. Drain and rinse the nopales with plenty of cold water. Set aside.
  • 4. In a saucepan, sauté the tomato sauce for 3 minutes.
  • 5. Add the cooked nopales and oregano to the tomato sauce. Cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • 6. Serve in bowls.
  • 7. Add toppings.

Cooking Tips

  • 1. Nopales are known as prickly cactus as they have small thorns on their skin that must be removed before eating. If you cannot find nopales that have had the thorns removed, it is easy to do and there are many instructional videos on the internet. Sometimes the employees at the store will even clean them for you if you ask.
  • 2. If you cannot find fresh nopales, they are also available in a jar. Make sure you rinse them very well as they are very salty.
  • 3. Fresh nopales are usually found in Mexican stores. You can use canned tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes. Make sure to use one that is low in sodium with no added oil.

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