Albondigas (Mexican Meatball) Soup Recipe

If you have ever lived or spent much time in Mexico or in any of the southwestern states, you likely are already well familiar with albondigas, AKA classic Mexican meatball soup. Albondigas are also a staple menu item on most authentic Mexican restaurants you'll find farther afield, too. Now, if you have never had a taste of this savory, satisfying stuff, make sure you follow the steps here closely, because you are in for a treat and a half! Chef and recipe developer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate Meals has created a delightful take on albondigas, and one that will give you a very accurate take on the soup. 

And don't worry, though there are a fair amount of ingredients and many steps, Rapone says, "This recipe is very simple and straight-forward as far as technique goes." So just read through the whole recipe before you start, measure and prep your ingredients carefully, then go for it! A Mexican classic awaits.

Gather your ingredients for albondigas (Mexican meatball) soup

We weren't kidding about there being a lot of ingredients here, but stay with us. You'll need vegetable oil, a yellow or white onion, carrots, celery, a yellow potato, tomato sauce, reduced-sodium chicken stock, fresh cilantro, uncooked long grain rice, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground beef, zucchini, and frozen peas.

"The secret ingredient in my version is the cinnamon that gets added to the meatballs," Rapone says. "It brings an extra depth of flavor and warmth that makes this soup even more comforting."

Prep the veggies and sauté the onions

First things first, chop the onion. Then wash and slice the carrots and celery and set them aside — they can go in the same bowl. Then wash the potato (scrub it well or peel it) and cut it into ½-inch to ¾-inch pieces; you can add these to the carrots and celery. Next, wash and cut the zucchini into ½-inch to ¾-inch pieces, and you can put the zucchini in the same bowl as the peas.

Now, in a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it's hot but not smoking. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and cook until the onion turns translucent, or for about 5 minutes. Remove the onions to a bowl and allow them to cool slightly.

Simmer the liquids and veggies

In the pot, add the carrots, potato, celery, tomato sauce, chicken stock, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir all of the ingredients well, cover the pot, and turn the heat up to high. Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium to maintain a strong simmer and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.

While those ingredients are simmering, cut the cilantro leaves from the stems, reserving some leaves for garnish. Next, chop the remaining leaves and measure 2 tablespoons out, and add this chopped cilantro to the sautéed onion. Then chop the cilantro stems and add them to the simmering broth and vegetables.

Form then cook the meatballs, then add the last ingredients and enjoy

To the cooled onion and cilantro, add the rice, the remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, the remaining fresh ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and the ground beef. Mix these together with your hands and then form 1-inch meatballs.

After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, add the meatballs carefully to the pot. Allow these to cook in the broth for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes have passed, add the zucchini and peas to the broth, and cook for five more minutes. "Personally, I really don't like it when zucchini gets mushy or peas are over-cooked," Rapone says. "So I think keeping the last step after those get added short and eating right away is the best."

So let's wrap up! Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if needed, then serve soup with cilantro leaves for garnish. And on the off chance you have any leftovers, Rapone says, "You can store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week and just reheat in the microwave or on the stove top."

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball) Soup Recipe
4.9 from 19 ratings
You don't have to go to a Mexican restaurant to enjoy authentic albondigas, AKA Mexican meatball soup.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
6
Servings
soup served in a bowl
Total time: 50 minutes
Ingredients
  • ½ yellow or white onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 yellow potato
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 8 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • ⅓ cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen peas
Directions
  1. Chop the onion, then wash and slice the carrots and celery.
  2. Wash the potato and cut it into ½- to ¾-inch pieces. Wash and cut the zucchini into ½- to ¾-inch pieces.
  3. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then add the onions and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the onions to a bowl and allow them to cool slightly.
  4. In the pot, add the carrots, potato, celery, tomato sauce, chicken stock, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir, cover, and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium to maintain a strong simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. While pot is simmering, cut the cilantro leaves from the stems. Reserve some leaves for garnish. Then chop 2 tablespoons' worth of leaves and add them to the sautéed onion.
  6. Chop the cilantro stems and add them to the boiling broth and vegetables.
  7. To the onion and cilantro, add the rice, remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and ground beef. Mix with your hands and form 1-inch meatballs.
  8. After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, add the meatballs carefully. Allow them to cook in the broth for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, add the zucchini and peas to the broth, and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  10. Serve the soup with cilantro leaves for garnish.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 349
Total Fat 18.1 g
Saturated Fat 6.0 g
Trans Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 53.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Total Sugars 5.8 g
Sodium 1,351.8 mg
Protein 21.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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