Yes, the meatballs are technically the star of this Albondigas Soup, but it's the veggies that have the potential to turn it into a repeat recipe.
Add in some potatoes and carrots, and even a handful of rice, and you've got a hearty, satisfying meal that reaches far beyond the limelighting meatballs. There's lots of flexibility on the veggies too, so feel free to add in any others that you're craving.
The other wingman in this recipe is the tomato broth.
You may recognize it as the broth from our Chicken Tortilla Soup. It's a common base for Mexican soups and there really should be a designated name for it so that more people get familiar with it. Souper Broth?!
Basically you are sweetening up some onions and blending them with roasted tomatoes and garlic. Add them to a trustworthy stock along with seasoning and you've got a Souper foundation for an authentic dish.
Start by roasting 4-5 tomatoes.
There's an extended simmer coming up so it's not crucial to roast the tomatoes all the way, so I usually just plop them in a 400F oven until I need them.
Meanwhile, saute 1.5 onions and 4-5 whole garlic cloves in a dollop of oil over medium heat.
Let the onions cook until they start to brown, this will sweeten them up. I usually give them a pinch of salt at this point too.
Add the onions and garlic to a blender along with the roasted tomatoes and a single chipotle in adobo. Combine well.
I like this soup best when the heat is mild. A single chipotle will give you just a whisper of heat in the final product, but of course you can always amp it up by adding more chipotles.
Try to get your hands on some stock that you trust. I'm using some vegetable stock for this batch, but chicken stock works really well too.
Before adding the broth we'll sweat the veggies for a few minutes to get 'em started.
So in the above pic you've got:
1/2 cup white rice
1 large potato
Let these saute in some oil for a few minutes and give 'em a pinch of salt. And keep in mind that you've got leeway on the veggies; feel free to add in anything else that you're craving.
Add the blender puree to the veggies along with 10-12 cups of stock. I usually pour the stock in the blender to rinse it out and then add it to the saucepan.
And note that since we'll be simmering the meatballs in the broth, you could get away with using water as the base, but good stock really does make it taste better so I think it's worth adding it in.
We'll also add:
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1.5 teaspoons salt
freshly cracked black pepper
Bring this to a boil and then add the meatballs.
This is an all-beef version of Mexican Meatballs. They are loaded with plenty of mint, giving them a bright, fresh flavor.
You could also sub out some of the ground beef for pork if you want. I'll put details on making these meatballs in the recipe box below, but basically you're just combining the following ingredients and rolling them into 1" diameter meatballs:
1.5 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 teaspoons salt
freshly cracked black pepper (approx. 1/2 teaspoon)
We're also rolling these meatballs a little smaller in hopes of making them more of a team player in this dish -- 27 meatballs from 1.5 lbs. of ground beef in this batch.
And yes, this is a mondo batch of soup and will easily serve 4-5 people if not more. You could always cut the recipe in half for a smaller batch, or simply store some of the uncooked meatballs in the fridge for future Meatball Sandwiches.
Gently add the meatballs to the broth.
Reduce heat to a simmer.
They'll need about 10-15 minutes to fully cook, depending on how big they are. You can break one open to confirm it's cooked all the way through, or you can use a thermometer to check that the insides are at least 160F.
Keep in mind that you always have the option of browning the meatballs first before adding them to the broth. You'll get some fat coming out of the meat during the simmer, and while it adds great flavor it could get greasy if you're using higher fat ground beef. I used a lean ground beef for this batch and that's a perfect fit for cooking them in the broth; if using a higher fat ground beef I would consider browning them first in a skillet and discarding some of the fat.
Definitely take a final taste for seasoning. I added another generous few pinches of salt to this batch but keep in mind that this is dependent on which stock you use. Homemade stocks will probably need more seasoning than store-bought stocks.
Serve immediately and be sure to get lots of the veggies in each serving bowl as they tend to sink to the bottom in the saucepan. The rice and potatoes are delicious because, well, they've been simmering in Souper Broth.
And a final burst of acidity works really well with this Albondigas Soup. A squeeze of lime does the trick for me, but you could also add a few drops of hot sauce if you want.
Okay, let me know if you have any questions about this recipe -- and keep that Souper Broth in mind for future dishes, it's such a great base that you could nearly eat it on its own.
Click 'Soup - Quiz!' in the table below to test your Soup knowledge!
- 4-5 tomatoes
- 1 1/2 onions
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1-2 potatoes
- 1/2 cup rice
- 1-2 carrots
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 10-12 cups stock
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
For the meatballs:
- 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup cooked rice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Start by roasting 4-5 tomatoes in the oven at 400F. (Normally they need about 20-30 minutes to fully roast, but I usually take them out when I need them because there's an extended simmer coming up.)
- You'll need 1/2 cup chopped mint for the meatballs. Pull the leaves off of 8-10 mint sprigs. Rinse and finely chop them.
- Add the mint to a large mixing bowl along with 1.5 lb. ground beef, 2 eggs, 1/4 onion (finely chopped), 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 1/2 cup of cooked white rice. Combine well and then use your hands to form meatballs that are approximately 1 inch wide. Keeping your hands wet will help if the mixture is sticky.
- Saute 1.5 roughly chopped onions and 4-5 whole, peeled garlic cloves in a dollop of oil over medium heat. Cook until the onion is starting to brown.
- Add the onion, garlic, roasted tomatoes, and a single chipotle in adobo to a blender. Combine well.
- Finely chop the potatoes and carrots. Add them to a large saucepan along with 1/2 cup of uncooked rice and sweat them in some oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Add the blender puree to the veggies along with 10-12 cups of stock, 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, 1.5 teaspoons salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Raise heat and bring to a boil.
- Gently add the meatballs and reduce heat to a simmer. The meatballs will need approx. 10-15 minutes to cook dependent on how big they are, but I simmered this batch for 20-25 minutes to give the veggies time to cook.
- Take a final taste for seasoning. I add another generous pinch of salt to this batch.
- Serve immediately with freshly chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Be sure to get lots of veggies in the serving bowls.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.