Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)

Soup and StewMexican and Tex MexGluten-FreeMeatballs

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.

Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup) Recipe

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  • 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 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 quarts of chicken stock or beef stock OR water OR a mixture of both (we usually use half stock half water as the meatballs will create their own stock)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 lb 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 Tbsp 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 broth mixture 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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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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177 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Vanessa

    The meatballs were tasty but the broth itself tasted very bland. It seems to be missing something. I added a lime as someone else mentioned and I’ll be searching around to see what else I can add to save this dish.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Melanie

    This is a very good recipe. I did feel that it needed an acid. So, I juiced a lime into it before serving. It really brightened up the flavors.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Cindy

    Can you make this with ground turkey?

  • Gabby M

    I’ve been referring to this recipe during fall days here in LA for a few years now….
    (One of my childhood favorite)
    I add fresh tomato’s, && mushrooms.
    I garnish with lemon && avocado on top.
    I’ve made this recipe with ground meat/turkey.
    I do add garlic pepper along with salt as it states above.
    Add chipotle peppers in sauce to each bowl (my son won’t eat it spicy)
    && waaaaaala!
    Delish!
    Thanks Elise

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Gabby

    This recipe is so delicious! It was very easy to follow and my favorite part is the meatballs have so much flavor. I just didn’t use any mint but added some zucchini and celery! Two thumbs up!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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