Mexican Meatball Soup (Albondigas Soup)

Mexican Meatball Soup, also known as Albondigas Soup, is a traditional Mexican comfort food that combines savory meatballs with a rich and flavorful broth. This hearty soup is perfect for a cozy family dinner or a festive gathering. The meatballs, made with a mix of ground meat and rice, are simmered in a delicious tomato-based broth along with vegetables, creating a dish that is both satisfying and nourishing.

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground pork (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Lime wedges for serving

Instructions

1. Prepare the Meatballs:
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, uncooked rice, finely chopped onion, chopped cilantro, egg, ground cumin, salt, black pepper, and minced garlic. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Form the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside.

2. Make the Soup Base:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

3. Add the Vegetables:
Stir in the sliced carrot, celery, and diced potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.

4. Add the Liquid and Seasonings:
Pour in the diced tomatoes, beef or chicken broth, and water. Add the ground cumin, dried oregano, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil.

5. Cook the Meatballs:
Carefully add the prepared meatballs to the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the soup cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.

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6. Add the Zucchini:
Stir in the diced zucchini and let the soup simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until the zucchini is tender but still slightly crisp.

7. Serve:
Ladle the soup into bowls, making sure to include several meatballs and plenty of vegetables in each serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the soup.

Tips for Success

  • Meatball Size: Make sure the meatballs are uniform in size to ensure even cooking.
  • Broth: Use a high-quality broth for the best flavor. Homemade broth can elevate the taste of the soup significantly.
  • Adjusting Thickness: If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add a bit of cornstarch mixed with water towards the end of cooking. For a thinner soup, add more broth or water.
  • Flavor Enhancements: For added depth of flavor, you can roast the vegetables before adding them to the soup.

Variations

  • Vegetarian Albondigas: Use plant-based meat substitutes for the meatballs and vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken broth.
  • Spicy Version: Add a chopped jalapeño or a pinch of chili flakes to the soup for a spicy kick.
  • Herb Substitutions: Substitute cilantro with parsley if you prefer a different herb flavor.

Conclusion

Mexican Meatball Soup, or Albondigas Soup, is a warm, hearty dish that brings together the rich flavors of seasoned meatballs and a robust vegetable broth. This traditional Mexican soup is perfect for any occasion, offering a comforting and nutritious meal that everyone will love. With its simple ingredients and easy preparation, this soup is sure to become a staple in your kitchen. Enjoy the delightful blend of textures and flavors in every spoonful, and don’t forget to garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime for the perfect finishing touch!

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