In Spain and Latin America, meatballs are called albóndigas. Spanish albóndigas can be served as an appetizer or main course, often in a tomato sauce, while Mexican albóndigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables, such as this recipe. Albóndigas soup is essentially a light meatball soup.
This is essentially a typical homemade recipe which hearkens back to basic Arizona cuisine. It is very low-cal and quite healthy. As usual, the perfect thing for a cold day, but there’s never a wrong time for a great bowl of soup. Especially if it’s Mexican! Buon Provecho!
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp onion powder
1 TBSP garlic powder
1/8 cup uncooked rice, any type
3 TBSP fresh cilantro, finely chopped (2 TBSP reserved for broth)
Additional cilantro, coarsely chopped for garnish.
1 32oz container chicken broth
3 med size potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 fresh tomato, diced, or use 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp oregano
salt & pepper to taste
Mix the meatball ingredients together in a medium to large glass bowl. Mixing it with your hands works best.
When thoroughly mixed, form into approximately 1 1/2′ meatballs. At this point they can be browned in a medium size skillet or frying pan. Don’t cook them completely, but just brown them lightly on the outside enough to hold the meatballs together and seal in the flavor.
When the meatballs are suitably browned, take them out and set aside on paper towels to drain.
*Note – You may omit this step, and cook them later in the broth. Chef’s choice, but I much prefer them browned a bit first, as I think it really gives them more flavor.
Add the broth, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, tomato, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper to a stockpot or dutch oven, and bring slowly to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.
Add the meatballs, the reserved cilantro, and a handful of rice to the soup mixture, and continue to simmer until all the ingredients are hot, or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked if you did not use the browning method.
Continue cooking until the rice is done, ladle gently into bowl and serve.
Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired., and if you truly want it Arizona style, add a little salsa, such as Pace Picante sauce, along with some warm buttered flour tortillas. Personally, I like a little McIlhenny’s Pepper Sauce too, just a few drops.