Wholesome, hearty Mexican meatball soup made with ground beef, rice, and veggies in a savory tomatoey chicken broth. This warm and comforting albondigas recipe will make about 4.5 quarts of delicious soup (about 8 servings).
It's SOOOOUUUUUP SEASON! It's been an average of 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the past week, which is freezing by my southern California standards. BUT it's the perfect excuse to make soup at least once a week... or twice or three times... I LOVE SOUP! And this one is one of my favorites.
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
1 cup cooked rice*
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
For the soup:
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
2 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (one large chile), minced**
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch rounds
2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
2-3 zucchinis, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
*Traditionally, albondigas is made with raw rice, but it takes longer to cook. If you use uncooked rice, use 1/4 cup and simmer for 15 minutes longer.
**The chipotle peppers are optional but highly encouraged. They add a rounded smokiness and spice to the broth. Omit if you're serving to kids or a spice-averse ninny.
Make the meatballs. Combine the ground beef, rice, egg, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl until fully combined. Using the palms of your hands, roll meatballs about 1 inch in diameter.
(OPTIONAL STEP) Heat a neutral oil in a large pot and sauté the meatballs until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Be gentle with them so they don't break apart! Once browned, set meatballs aside but leave the delicious fats and browned bits. They do NOT have to be fully cooked through. Browning and caramelizing the meatballs will add an extra depth to the broth.
In the same large soup pot, Sauté the chopped onions until softened in about a tablespoon of neutral oil (or the rendered fat), about 2 minutes. Then, add the garlic and continue to sauté for an additional minute.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the meatballs, tomato paste, and oregano. Lower to a simmer. (If you didn't brown the meatballs or if you're using raw rice, simmer for 10 minutes before the next step.)
Add in the potatoes and carrots and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes start to get tender.
Add in the zucchini and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
This soup makes great leftovers and reheats well. It's amazing with some crusty bolillo. Albondigas soup will warm your cold dead heart. If it doesn't, serve yourself another bowl.
Back from the dead with a warm belly,