I had never heard of albondigas, or Mexican meatball soup, until I met my husband. This was a staple in his childhood home with his Latina mother making this soothing soup for her four children often. Whenever we go down to San Diego to visit, the first thing she asks when we arrive is, "Do you guys want some albondigas?" even before we exchanges hugs or hellos.
Throughout the years I have worked on mastering my own version of albondigas, which I make whenever one of us is feeling a bit under the weather or just if the mood strikes. It really does make us feel better if we’re sick and makes us happy even when we're not. I've taken liberties with the recipe I learned from my stepmother: I added in the tomatoes, got rid of the mushrooms, and threw in more spice. It's to the point now that my husband prefers mine to hers. Just don't tell her that -- promise?
Here is my version of albondigas. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours!
Mexican Meatball Soup, aka Albondigas
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
3 medium-sized zucchinis chopped in 3-inch chunks
3 carrots chopped in 3-inch chunks
1 (14-oz.) can tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted)
64 oz. chicken broth
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup white rice
1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
1 tsp oregano (we use Mexican oregano, which has a slightly different flavor that regular oregano, so pick some up if you can find it)
Mexican hot sauce to taste (we use Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce or Tapatio)
Put the vegetable oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Once the oil is warm, add onion and sauté until translucent (about 4 minutes).
Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add zucchinis, carrots, and the can of tomatoes. Stir. Then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
As the soup is coming to a boil, make the meatballs. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, rice, cilantro, egg, oregano, and a few shakes of hot sauce.
When the soup is at a full boil, form the meat mixture into balls about the size of a walnut and gently drop them into the soup.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, making sure the meatballs, carrots, and zucchinis are cooked through.
We like to serve the soup with tortillas, hot sauce, a little cilantro, and lemon wedges. And like many soups, this one tastes even better the next day!
Image via AK Jellie Bean/Flickr