Another soup recipe..I know what your thinking? Is this all this chick can make? I assure you I have skills. I just really adore soup. It has everything in one pot, woohoo, less cleaning!!! You can vary recipes, learn new techniques, and cultures, and I find it amazing when you consider how culturally different we are, yet so very much the same, in our love for family, food, and how food nourishes us, body, mind, and soul. Seeing things from this perspective makes for a loving heart, that is accepting and tolerant of one another. At least that is the case for me and my children. What I love about Albondigas, aside from everything, is how simple but delicious they are, and how close to my Tuscan Meatball Soup it is, yet so vastly different with the use of different spices. What makes this special is the way this Mexican recipe uses rice in the Albondigas, similarly to the Polish stuffed cabbage filling. Similar, but uniquely different.
What ARE Albondigas?
Albondigas means meatball in Spanish. What makes the albondigas different from a traditional Italian meatball is that for one they incorporate rice into their meatballs, and mint is a traditional addition, I am using cilantro in mine, you can use cilantro, mint or flat leaf Italian parsley.
Is this an authentic recipe for Albondigas?
I have had this served a few different ways when I have had this soup at Mexican and Spanish restaurants. Some have made it with the addition of carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes in a simmering broth, along with the albondigas. Still others have made it with a more traditional recipe, of green peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and just the albondigas in a simmering broth. Mine is somewhere in between, I don’t use the mint. So this is an adaptation as close as possible to authentic, also I like to use a homemade chili paste to flavor the soup and I think this makes the soup intense and so full of flavor and not at all overtly spicy.
Some things to keep in mind….
- The key to making flavorful albondigas as with any meatball is proper seasonings right out of the gate. A good rule of thumb is a teaspoon of Kosher salt, per pound of ground meat. So if you are using a 1 1/2 lbs. as this recipe calls for you’d want to use at least 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, in addition to your regular herbs and spice additions. Another thing, I had an email question about why I use cracked black pepper and then cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. The reason is simple. One of the first things culinary students learn, is that every herb and spice is uniquely different and will produce a different taste. Cracked black pepper is inherently different in its heat level, then cayenne, and hits the palate on a different level, as does say Chipotle chili, which packs some heat. It’s all about layering flavors, and complimenting and not overpowering a dish.
- While you can use a meatloaf mix to make the albondigas, traditionally they are made with ground beef.
- Simmering the broth for at least 30 minutes will help to bring the flavors together. I also like to add in some Mexican flavors to the broth, such as cumin, a tiny bit of Ancho chili powder, along with dried Mexican oregano, as well as the addition of one Serrano chili.
- As with any soup such as egg drop or a chicken and chicken and dumplings you want to begin to add the albondigas while the soup is simmering nicely, meaning when bubbles are just lightly skimming the surface. This ensures that your meatballs are going to cook in the broth gently, you do not want to have them boiling away as they get tough and will begin to fall apart slightly and that is not what you want.
- Keeping the albondigas the same size will allow them to cook through evenly, and makes for a better soup to spoon ratio. Shoot for the size of a golf ball. You can use a cookie scoop but I love rolling meatballs it is oddly soothing!
- This soup is excellent reheated, and will keep for up to 5 days in and airtight container in the refrigerator.
This Albondigas soup is easy, yet so delicious and satisfying on a cold day. It feeds you from the inside out, and after all isn’t that what we truly want, whether we are nourishing ourselves or the ones we love? Learn to celebrate food, love, and life. We are here on this earth for only a short time, why not make it the best experience it can be. Give this one a try, and make this today, you will be glad you did!
Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)
A comforting traditional Mexican soup, that's easy, full of flavor, and so satisfying on a cold winter day!
- 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef 80/20 is perfect
- 2 chopped cubanelle peppers
- 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes drained, juice reserved (use if needed to thin out)
- 1/4 cup of homemade chili paste (recipe below)
- 4 cups of homemade or one 32 oz. container of chicken stock
- 3 tsp. of ground cumin
- 1 tsp. of Ancho chili powder
- 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
For the homemade chili paste
- 2 1/2 oz. of dried chilis (Anaheim or Ancho are mild peppers, I used a combination of Ancho, and 2 chile de arbol, they can be spicy but I like the heat. *Use gloves for this or you will curse the day you were born! Trust me on this, and don’t think about touching your face or anywhere else with you gloves on!
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. of ground cumin
- 1 chipotle in adobo along with 3/4 tsp. of adobo sauce
- 3 1/2 cups of boiling water
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
For the Chili paste
- In a large bowl place the dried chilis and cover with enough water to cover. Weight with a plate or another bowl to keep the chilis submerged in the water to reconstitute about 20 minutes or so.
- When chilis are soft, put on food grade latex gloves and seed and core the chilis, place in a food processor or Ninja Blender, along with a 1/4 cup of the liquid, add in garlic, chipotle with adobo, smoked paprika, cumin and salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Strain in mesh strainer if you prefer. Set aside.
For the Albondigas
- In a Dutch oven add in about 1 tbsp. of EVOO, and saute onion and cubanelle peppers until soft, about 4 minutes. Add in garlic, chili paste, cumin, and Ancho chili powder. Saute about 3-4 minutes to bloom spices along with the chili paste.
- Add in the tomatoes, and broth, mix well to combine, Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors of the broth to develop. Simmering broth should have bubbles lightly break the surface. Add in the albondigas and allow them to simmer in the broth for at least 15 minutes, covering them to cook in the simmering broth.
- After 15 minutes, check to see if you need to add in some of the reserved tomato liquid, I don’t like to add too much of the liquid as I feel it dilutes the flavorful broth, but if you feel that you want more liquid, feel free to add some or all in. Add in chopped cilantro and check seasonings. Serve immediately, top with more chopped cilantro if desired. Devour!
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