The Secret Ingredient To Add Flavorful Depth To Albondigas

Sometimes, the quickest flick of a wrist carries significant impact. That's exactly what happens when dashing relatively small amounts of spice or seasoning into a bubbling pot of soup. That influence is magnified if the soup happens to be swimming with Mexican albondigas meatballs. Fortunately, we got an insider tip on making albondigas soup from chef and recipe developer Stephanie Rapone, who created a recipe for Tasting Table.

Rapone, known as the foodpreneuer behind Pantry to Plate Meals, knows a thing or two about creating goodness in a bowl, including albondigas. The earthy meatballs are a staple of Mexican cuisine, in both home kitchens and dine-out eateries. They also make their way onto restaurant menus across the globe; The New Yorker recently shared a story about albondigas at the Michellin-starred Casa Enrique in New York City, whose chef, Cosme Aguilar, fashions them from a family recipe by his mother, who ran a restaurant in Chiapas, Mexico.

You'll find the Mexican meatballs nestled in enchilada sauces and wrapped in soft tacos, but they most prominently (and affectionately) feature in albondigas soups. Rapone's recipe for Tasting Table, accompanied by a step-by-step video on Tasting Table's YouTube channel, features a bustling parade of healthy ingredients. But there's one in particular that helps define the soup, creating a delicious dichotomy of comfort and energy in your bowl.

Go deep on flavor

The secret to Chef Rapone's albondigas soup likely resides in your pantry already. It's the humble yet exotic bark of the cinnamon tree, whose outer portion gets scored, peeled, and scraped to reach the inner auburn-brown bark, explains Smithsonian Magazine, who followed the cinnamon harvest in Indonesia. Available in markets as Cassia or Ceylon cinnamon, we commonly buy it in sticks, powders, teas, oils, and supplements.

Known as a magic powder when baking sweet pies, strudels, or warm fruit compotes, cinnamon knows its way around a kitchen. It settles equally well into savory dishes such as albondigas soup, making subtle yet impactful transformations. Rapone explains that the cinnamon, which goes directly into the ground beef rather than the broth, adds extra flavor depth and warmth to the soup. It's one of the last spices added before forming the one-inch albondigas and adding them to the separately simmered broth and vegetables.

Flavor is not the only thing that benefits from adding cinnamon; The albondigas soup also gets a zing of nutrients. Dietitian Candace O'Neill shares with Cleveland Clinic that the ancient spice typically harbors an antioxidant compound called cinnamaldehyde, which can reduce inflammation and help guard against heart disease. Chatelaine adds that cinnamon potentially increases immunity, lowers blood sugar levels, enhances digestion, and reduces symptoms of major diseases.

Those are some pretty good reasons to dash that cinnamon into your albondigas soup. Besides, the Tasting Table recipe is just plain delicious — which is reason enough.