Saturday, April 2, 2011

Albondigas, Mexican Meatball Soup

   I wasn’t sure I really liked the idea of a meatball soup, but the second you make it Mexican meatball soup, it suddenly sounds good to me!
    We stopped on our recent travels in a dumpy little town, where our food choices were fast food, or Mexican.  The Mexican place was almost empty, which at lunch time is not a very good sign and the hostess/server seemed a bit sullen about being at work that day.  Hmmmm, should we stay, or should we go? As we were shown to our table, I noticed the only other customer in the joint, eating a bowl of yummy looking meatball soup.  She had that entirely blissful look on her face and, of course, I was checking out her food as we went by. I didn’t even look at the menu, just ordered a bowl of the same thing, the albondigas. 
    After about 10 minutes, the server returned to tell me that they were out of the albondigas… WHAT? Who the heck ordered it before MY order was placed? It was 11:45 and was on the "specials of the day" board! She stood there expectantly, waiting for my new order, I sent her away while I looked at the menu.  I chose another dish, and awaited her return… and waited and waited at least another 10 minutes.  By this time, you can imagine I was not in my happy place.  Finally, she took the order with a continued lackluster bored expression, and shuffled off.  About two minutes later (I kid you not…), she reappeared with the Albondigas soup and a big smile on her face.  I, of course, reciprocated a matching smile on my face too! I didn't ask where this magical soup appeared from, I just ate. The soup was delicious, probably even more so because I thought it was never to be mine.  It’s nice that gal and I could find our happy place that day.
          I’ve been researching recipes for Albondigas and see there are as many recipes as there are cooks in Mexico. So, as usual, I’m going off completely on my own with some ideas from a couple of dozen recipes I found most intriguing.  Don’t call and tell me that this soup isn’t authentic, because I am  not Hispanic, nor do I have a cute little Mexican Granny to ask, so OF COURSE this soup is not authentic.  But I do promise you that this soup is delicious and has Mexican like tendencies! I chose ground turkey to make my meatballs to cut down on the fat, but beef is probably more traditional.

Serves about 5-6
20 oz ground turkey
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 med onion, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, small chopped
8 cups chicken broth
1 15oz. can of tomatoes, blended until chunky smooth
1 4 oz can of chopped green chilies
3-4 carrots, cut into chunky sticks
4-5 white potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 small lime, juiced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder, or chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
More rice, to serve with, if desired

In a stand mixer, or regular mixing bowl, mix the ground turkey with the breadcrumbs, rice, egg, minced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic and salt.  Mix well. 

Take a small amount and microwave for 15-30 seconds to taste the flavor and make sure your seasoning tastes good.

Set aside the meat mixture and finish the broth.

Mince the celery, onion and red pepper.  Saute over medium heat in olive oil until softened and translucent.

Add the broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the green chilies, cumin, blended tomatos, chili powder, lime juice and garlic.  ***Be sure to add the salt and pepper right before serving to make sure that the soup doesn't get too salty.

Add the chopped potatoes and the large matchsticks of carrots.  Using a small cookie scooper, or your hands, make small meatballs and gently add them to the simmering broth one by one. 

It may seem like a lot of meatballs, but they do shrink down, so keep adding them!  Don't stir the broth, just keep adding the meatballs.  They will firm up quite quickly, and will bob up to the surface of the soup, but will take about 20 minutes to cook completely. 

Once the meatballs have firmed up, you can gently stir the broth.

Add the chopped cilantro and serve.  Some cooks add a scoop of cooked rice to the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup, but it's really up to you. 

What else would this work with?
  • Use ground beef, as lean as possible
  • Ground pork, as lean as possible
  • Any combination of vegetables that appeal to you, I've seen recipes that called for zucchini, spinach and others.  What sounds good to you?
  • You could skip the potatoes in the broth, and just add the pre-cooked rice in the bottom of the bowl before serving.
If you like this soup, you might also like:
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Mexican Chicken Posole Stew
Pork and Chorizo Soup

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you're home - I've been waiting for my next recipe!