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.
How to Make Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)
What Is Albondigas Soup?
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. Carrots, green beans, and peas are also usually added to the soup.
The Secret Ingredient
What makes the flavor of albondigas soup distinctive is the chopped mint in the meatballs. I once remarked to a Mexican chef friend of mine 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.
Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)
Use spearmint or Mexican yerba buena for the mint in this soup (not peppermint). My mother often puts a couple extra tablespoons of chopped fresh mint directly into the soup. 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.
Feel free to substitute ground turkey for the ground beef, we do it often.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 quarts chicken stock or beef stock
1 quart water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 pound green beans, strings and ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup white rice
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh spearmint leaves
1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh peas
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1 dash cayenne, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Make the soup base:
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (5-quart) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
Add the stock, water, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the green beans and carrots.
Prepare the meatballs:
Mix the uncooked rice into the meat on a large bowl, along with the spearmint leaves and parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix in the raw egg.
Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
Add the meatballs to the soup, let simmer, and 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 cooking. Add a few pinches of oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne, to taste.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 16g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||24%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||57%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|