You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Sopa de Albóndigas (Mexican-Style Meatball Soup) ~

IMG_0734Soup with meatballs swimming in it -- it's common in almost all cultures, and, there is a common reason for it too.  In the history of food, and throughout all the documented ages, meat was for the wealthy.  In spite of that, savvy cooks minced or ground unwanted scraps or lesser cuts of meat and combined them with inexpensive binders like breadcrumbs or rice, a liquid or egg, plus some common-to-the cuisine seasonings.  They are to be commended for developing great-tasting meatball recipes which allowed the poorer classes to partake in a diet richer in protein.

IMG_0697Albóndigas = meatballs, in Spanish.  Albunduq = hazelnut or small, in Arabic. 

In the case of this soup, albóndigas is the Spanish word for meatballs, and, this now-deemed Mexican soup meal traces its roots back to the sixth century, when Islamic influence dominated Southwestern Europe.  In the thirteenth century (700 years later), Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella conquered these Muslim-occupied territories, and, over time, Islamic culinary traditions naturally integrated into the Spanish-style of eating.  After that, albóndigas soup made its way to Mexico via the conquistadors.  I mention this informative trail of historical breadcrumbs because, at first glance, some might question one or two ingredients that don't fit the presupposed profile for Spanish and/or Mexican cuisine -- I know, I questioned it the first time I made this soup.

Hazelnut-sized Spanish meatballs contain a protein + rice & egg (to bind) & mint.

The earliest of recipes used lamb, along with rice and mint to make the meatballs.  In Spain, lamb transitioned to beef, pork or chicken.  In Mexico, beef, chicken and/or chorizo became the predominant proteins. In the language of any cuisine, this is easy to understand as ingredients are always dependent upon the geography and climate of the region.  That said, while the proteins changed with the landscape, two constants remained in the making of albóndigas: rice and mint. Imagine small, minty meatballs swimming around in a light but nicely-seasoned chicken broth, with colorful orange carrots, red tomatoes and a green vegetable (green beans, peas or spinach are common), or, black beans and sweet corn kernels (what I like to use).

For my nicely-seasoned & easy-to-make Mexican-style soup base:

IMG_0652For the Mexican-style soup base:

2  tablespoons achiote vegetable oil, or any plain (clear) ordinary vegetable oil

1  tablespoon fajita seasoning, homemade or store-bought (Note:  Fajita seasoning is the perfect all-purpose seasoning blend for sopa de albóndigas and for seasoning the albóndigas too. After all, its purpose is to season beef or chicken and all the yummy vegetables that typically season fajitas -- all the same ingredients included in this recipe.)

1 1/2-2  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

4  large garlic cloves, run through a press

1 1/2-2  cups peeled and sliced or diced carrots

1  cup diced celery

2  quarts chicken stock 

1  quart beef stock 

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2-3/4-ounce bouquet garni of cilantro

1/2-1  teaspoon sea salt, to taste (optional) (Note:  Depending on the amount of salt in the fajita seasoning, which varies from recipe to recipe and manufacturer to manufacturer, it may or may not be necessary to add additional salt to the soup stock.)

IMG_0656 IMG_0656 IMG_0656~ Step 1.  In a wide-bottomed 8-quart stockpot over low heat, stir together the achiote oil and fajita seasoning.  Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery.  Give the mixture a stir, to thoroughly coat the vegetables in the seasoned oil, increase/adjust heat to sauté and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly with a large spoon, until onions are softening, without showing signs of browning.

IMG_0666 IMG_0666 IMG_0666 IMG_0666~Step 2.  Add the chicken stock, beef stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, and cilantro.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer and cook until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.  Turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow to steep for 1-2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.  Overnight is best.

For my spice-is-right Mexican chorizo & ground beef meatballs: 

IMG_0701For the Mexican-style mini-meatballs:

1/2  pound chorizo sausage

1/2  pound 85% lean ground beef

2  teaspoons fajita seasoning, homemade or store-bought

2  teaspoons dried mint leaves

6  tablespoons uncooked long-grain white rice

1  large egg, raw

IMG_0683 IMG_0683 IMG_0683Step 1.  In a medium mixing bowl, place the Mexican chorizo sausage, ground beef, fajita seasoning, dried mint leaves and rice.  Using your hands, thoroughly combine.  Add the egg and combine again.

IMG_0692 IMG_0692 IMG_0692~Step 2.  Using a 1" ice-cream scoop as a measure, form balls and roll between the palms of hands into 3/4" meatballs, placing them on a parchment-lined baking pan as you work.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2-3 hours, to give rice time to soften a bit.  There will be 5-dozen meatballs.

IMG_0713For the add-in's and garnishes:

1  cup well-drained and rinsed black beans*

1  cup well-drained sweet corn kernels

minced cilantro or cilantro sprigs

*Note:  In the Fall/Winter months, I like to add spinach.  In the Summer, when my garden produces them, I add green and yellow zucchini.

IMG_0710 IMG_0710 IMG_0710 IMG_0710 IMG_0710 IMG_0710~Step 3.  Bring soup to a simmer over medium-high heat.  One or two at a time, drop meatballs into simmering soup (do it this way to keep soup simmering).  When meatballs have been added, adjust heat to a gentler simmer, partially cover pot and cook 10-12 minutes.  Add black beans and corn and simmer, uncovered, 2-3 more minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow soup to steep, about 30-45 minutes, prior to serving.

Ladle into soup bowls & garnish as you wish:

IMG_0737So delish you'll want another dish:

IMG_0752Sopa de Albondigas (Mexican-Style Meatball Soup):  Recipe yields 4 quarts soup/soup base, 5 dozen small 3/4"-round meatballs and 8-10 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; vegetable peeler; kitchen-safe twine; 8-quart wide-bottomed stock pot w/lid; large spoon; 1" ice-cream-type scoop; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; soup ladle

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c807903f970bCook's Note: When I use my crockpot, it's not because I have no time to cook, it's because what I'm letting it cook for me, without compromise, is really good.  It's no secret, I've never been a crockpot kinda gal, but, over the past few years I've mellowed.  For one of our family's favorite Tex-Mex-style soups, try ~ Easy-Does-It: Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~.  Using pantry staples, this recipe takes almost no time to put in the crock and tastes reminiscent of a tasty trip South of the border.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment