Mexican Albóndigas Soup
Mexican Albóndigas is a traditional Mexican soup that will quickly become a family favorite.
Like many traditional recipes, albóndigas is one that has slight variations from family to family, but the bones are the same: a broth-based soup with lots of chopped vegetables and always meatballs. (Spanish Albóndigas, on the other hand are a very different dish, and you can find more on them here).
Some make the meatballs with a mix of pork and beef; others use all beef. Some include chayote or green pepper while others keep it basic with onion, celery, carrots and zucchini. Some cook the rice a bit before putting them into the meatballs, but most form the meatballs with uncooked rice.
Yes, adding uncooked rice actually works (as we learned when making Porcupine Meatballs), and it’s pretty amazing. The rice takes the place of the breadcrumbs in these meatballs. Some of the rice will end up in the soup, but most of it cooks right in the meatball.
We tried a few different ingredient variations during our research: all beef vs. a mixture of pork and beef in the meatballs, celery vs. green pepper and diced tomatoes vs. a combination of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. All this is to say that this soup is flexible. Use what you have, use what you love – it’s bound to work. Finish the bowl off with a squeeze of lemon (not lime – using lemon was the one constant we found in this dish) and some chopped cilantro.
Mexican Albóndigas is definitely a comfort food, but a light and flavorful one that you’ll be happy to eat for days if your family doesn’t gobble it all up in one meal.
Mexican Albóndigas Soup
Yield: 3 and 1/2 quarts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 lb. ground beef (20% lean, 80% fat)
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1 /2 cup white rice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 green pepper, chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 1 and 1/ 2 cups)
- 1 box (32 oz.) chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
- Lemon and cilantro for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until beaten. Add the ground beef, ground pork, rice and garlic. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Lightly mix together with hands until incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Roll into 3/4 - 1 inch balls - you should have about 30-35 of them. Set aside.
- Heat large stock pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add potatoes, onion and carrots to pot. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally then add green pepper and zucchini to pot. Cook for 3-4 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, water, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to pot and bring to a boil.
- Carefully add meatballs into pot, stirring so they are all submerged, and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, until rice is tender and meatballs are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and top with chopped cilantro.