Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)

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Classic Mexican soup made with meatballs (albondigas), green beens, onions, and chicken stock. A family favorite.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Albondigas soup is a traditional Mexican meatball soup (“albondigas” means “meatballs” in Spanish) that my mother has cooked for our family for more than 50 years.

It is our version of comfort food.

A simple soup base is made with sautéed onions, garlic, broth, and tomatoes. Into the bubbling soup you drop meatballs made with ground beef or ground turkey and rice.

The meat creates its own additional broth for the soup. Carrots, green beans, and peas are also usually added to the soup.

What makes the flavor of albondigas soup distinctive is the chopped mint in the meatballs. I once complained to a Mexican chef about the lack of mint in his cookbook’s albondigas soup recipe, and he looked at me with surprise and said, “my mother puts mint in her albondigas!”

You can, of course, skip the mint, substitute with a little fresh oregano or some cilantro, but to me, the soup’s not the same without it. You can also vary the vegetables added, depending on what you have on hand and what’s in season.

How to make albondigas soup

Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup) Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

If fresh mint is not available, you can use a couple teaspoons of dried mint from herbal mint tea.

You can vary the vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Spring peas in their pods instead of shucked peas, for example. Or you could add some chopped fresh zucchini or corn.

My mother often puts a couple extra tablespoons of chopped fresh mint directly into the soup.

Feel free to substitute ground turkey for the ground beef, we do it often.

Use spearmint or Mexican yerba buena for the mint in this soup (not peppermint).

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock or beef stock
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 pound of green beans, strings and ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup of raw white rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh spearmint leaves
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped parsley
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • A dash of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, crumbled, or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method

1 Make the soup base with onion, garlic, broth, tomato sauce, carrots and green beans: Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed pot (5-qt) over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add stock, water, and tomato sauce. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add carrots and string beans.

2 Prepare the meatballs: Mix rice into meat, adding mint leaves and parsley, salt and pepper. Mix in raw egg. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

3 Add meatballs to soup, let simmer, add peas: Gently add the meatballs to the simmering soup, one at a time. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add the peas towards the end of the 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne, to taste.

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

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Albondigas Soup

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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198 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Ashley McCown

    Perfect traditional Mexican soup recipe.
    Very simple and a meal the entire family enjoys.
    The only thing i do differently is i add lemon/ lime juice. It gives it a little kick while adding fresh flavor.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Cuqui

    Pretty good, authentic recipe for a basic Mexican staple of the home cook. Only other variance I’d say folks should consider is adding raisins or chopped hard boiled egg into the center of each albondiga – kids love being surprised by what they get. Should also be served with chipotle chile or adding one into the soup just before its ready. Don’t overcook those albondigas!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. kevin

    i just heard about adding mint. so ima try it. I was also told to salt the meat first, then mix the rice and mint….

  4. Tanya

    Pretty disappointed. I’ve never had albondigas before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The broth of the soup had a good flavor but the meatballs were so incredibly bland, when they should’ve be the star of the show. I’ve looked at other recipes that call for onions in the meatballs, and other spices, and another egg and breadcrumbs (along with the rice) to make the meatballs more tender as well. I’ll try to finish this pot of soup, though, as I spent so much money on it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Yolanda

    I substituted zucchini for green beans because my husband likes it that way. It smelled delicious and tasted just as good!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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