Kissed with spices, this rich, comforting and hearty albondigas soup filled with beef meatballs and vegetables is a splendid supper to share with those you love!
Bonding Over Albondigas Soup
Whenever I think of a hot bowl of comforting albondigas soup with those delicious meatballs and its rich, mildly spicy broth, I can't help but think about that preciously sweet time of courtship between my husband and I many years back...
Remembering that time of my life automatically curls my lips up into a big, mischievous smile. It fills my heart with an extra little “thump-thump” and a soft haziness, the kind that nudges me on into a warm, lingering daydream or fuzzy reminiscence.
It's kind of funny (though not at all surprising) that many of the things my now-hubby Michael and I longed to know about each other and talk about when we first connected, were things of a food nature.
I know it may sound silly, but the truth is, I really think one can get to know a lot about someone—how they approach things, how they see things—by how they feel about food, and the kind of food that they enjoy. Are they daring, boring, loving, colorful...?
Have you ever noticed that?
I vividly remember sharing with my then-quickly-becoming-best-friend that cooking and food were my passion, not only professionally speaking, but in life in general. And I remember him responding that he too absolutely adored cooking, and had cooked for himself quite often. He shared that preparing a good, rich albondigas soup was one of his favorite, most comforting things that he loved to savor.
And I remember thinking, “Ah...he likes things that are cozy, comfy and spicy.” He certainly seemed like the perfect match for me!
And now, all these years later, I can very joyfully tell you that, indeed, he was.
I suppose you could say we bonded over albondigas soup!
How to Make Albondigas Soup
If you love a hearty, mildly spicy, zesty, thick and rich soup, then this homemade albondigas soup recipe is absolutely perfect for you.
With juicy and tender beef meatballs filled with rice, spices and herbs, cooked directly in a hot, simmering broth, along with lots of vegetables to create delicious texture, it's truly a soup that eats like a meal!
Honestly, a bowl of this cozy soup needs little else to accompany it except for perhaps few tortilla chips, along with some Cotija cheese, crumbled over top.
It's so very flavorful and delicious, and the perfect meal to prepare and share with those in your life that you love and care for.
Here are some of the basic steps for my albondigas soup recipe:
- I begin by preparing my meatball mixture and shaping the meatballs, then allow them to chill for a few minutes while I prep my soup.
- Next, I saute some of the more aromatic veggies in a large soup pot, then add in some of the remaining ingredients in increments, followed by my stock or broth.
- Once the soup begins to simmer, I carefully drop in my meatballs, and continue cooking the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the meatballs and diced potatoes are cooked through.
- During the final five minutes of simmering, I add in the remaining veggies, some fresh herbs, and a squeeze of lime juice at the very end.
- I serve with tortilla strips and Cotija cheese on top!
(The full recipe is below...)
Tips & Tidbits for Albondigas Soup:
- Lean ground beef for my recipe: My choice is lean ground beef for this recipe, but other great substitutions are ground lamb, ground pork, ground turkey or even chicken.
- Uncooked white rice in the meatballs: There's no need to cook your white rice before adding it to your meatball mixture. The rice will cook and soften as the meatballs simmer and cook in the hot soup, so simply use uncooked white rice.
- Herbs of choice: While cilantro is kind of a “must” with this recipe, I also like to add in a touch of fresh mint as a good background flavor. It doesn't overpower at all, just rounds out the flavor of the soup. You could also use green onion, or even parsley in this soup if you prefer.
- Tasty spuds: I use a russet potatoes in this recipe, but feel free to sub in a sweet potato (delish!), or use red or yellow waxy potatoes—whatever you prefer!
- Make things vegetarian: While an albondigas soup is truly all about the meatballs, you can make it vegetarian and quite delicious. Omit the meatballs and instead sub in vegetarian chorizo (you can find good ones at Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market), or seasoned ground soy, which resembles ground beef. You'll also want to substitute vegetable broth/stock for the beef.
- Yummy toppings: Tortilla strips or crumbled tortilla chips along with Cotija cheese are my toppings of choice (along with extra cilantro leaves, of course!); but you can use cheddar cheese, diced avocado—again, whatever sounds good to you!
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 386 calories
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
• 1 pound ground beef (85/15 lean to fat ratio)
• ⅓ cup uncooked white rice
• 1 slice white (or rustic style) bread, processed into fine breadcrumbs
• 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro leaves, divided use
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh mint leaves, divided use
• 1 egg, whisked
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided use
• ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided use
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• Avocado or olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 celery ribs, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 3 ounces (about ½ a can) tomato paste
• 1 chipotle pepper, minced
• 1 ½ tablespoons adobo sauce (sauce from chipotles)
• ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 russet potato, peeled and diced
• 6 cups warm beef stock/broth
• 1 small yellow squash, diced
• ½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
• 2 teaspoons lime juice
• Tortilla strips or chips, for garnish (optional)
• ¼ cup Cotija cheese, for garnish (optional)
• Cilantro leaves, for garnish
-To prepare the meatballs: add the ground beef into a large bowl, followed by the rice, the breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons worth of the chopped mint, 1 tablespoon worth of the chopped cilantro, and the egg; next, add in the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper, ¼ teaspoon of the ground cumin, and the pinch of red pepper flakes.
-Mix the meat with the ingredients to incorporate everything well, then begin making the meatballs by taking about 1 tablespoon-size portions of the meat and rolling it between your palms to shape; once all meatballs are rolled, place into the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.
-To prepare the soup: place a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of oil; once the oil is hot, add in the onion, carrots and celery, and sweat the vegetables for about 3-4 minutes until softened.
-Add in the garlic, and once that becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, stir, and allow it to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
-Next, add in the minced chipotle pepper and the adobo sauce, and stir to combine; add in the remaining ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, the remaining ¾ teaspoon of ground cumin, and the smoked paprika, and stir to combine.
-Add in the diced russet potato and stir to incorporate that, then add in the warm beef stock/broth, and once again, stir.
-Once the stew begins to simmer, slowly begin adding the meatballs in a few at a time, and very gently stir to distribute/move them, taking care not to break them up.
-When all the meatballs are added in, allow the stew to gently simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring very gently.
-After the 30 minutes, add in the diced squash, and continue to cook for additional 5 minutes, or until the squash, potatoes and meatballs are completely tender.
-To finish the stew, add in the peas, the lime juice and the remaining 2 teaspoons chopped mint and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and stir to combine.
-Serve topped with tortilla strips, a sprinkle of Cotija cheese and additional cilantro, if desired.
Cook’s Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014, and has been updated with even more love!