This fragrant Mexican Meatball Soup, traditionally called Albondigas, is loaded with vegetables and full of flavor. It’s also ready in just 30-minutes.
In my travels, my husband and I have been several times to Mexico. We enjoy always trying the local foods and can usually be found at roadside stands and food trucks looking to see what the locals enjoy eating. The history and culture of a nation can be found also in the food. In Mexico, meatballs are served in a light broth with an assortment of vegetables and rice.
On my home front, meatballs are a comfort food and a favorite of my daughter. No matter how I spice or stuff them, my daughter will always try a new meatball variety. She is actually quite fond of this Mexican style meatball soup – despite its mild heat from the chile peppers. It’s a light soup but one I can fill with her favorite vegetables. Today, I used carrots, potatoes, onions and celery since that’s all I had on hand but you can use green beans, peas, zucchini and summer squash, too. All of them are delicious in this flavorful, smoky broth.
For me, it’s the herbs that really set this dish apart. We use fresh herbs from my summer garden and even now I still keep a small variety in my kitchen window to get me through the winter. Fresh spearmint, oregano, and cilantro give this soup an aromatic flavor we enjoy. I definitely would not skip the fresh herbs – they are available in your grocer’s produce department and some small plants are usually also available for purchase at this time of year for the indoor kitchen. The array of fresh, fragrant herbs are in the meatballs as well, and the flavor they lend is phenomenal. This alone is what sets these meatballs apart from your average meatball. So, so yummy. Traditional albondigas contain rice both in the meatball and again in the soup. Today I used oatmeal in my meatballs instead of rice for the added fiber it provides. There is no difference in overall flavor and my daughter loved it. If you prefer to stick with tradition, use an equal amount of rice for the rolled oats.
Mexican Meatball Soup
Yield 6 servings
This fragrant Mexican Meatball Soup, traditionally called Albondigas, is loaded with vegetables and full of flavor. It's also ready in just 30-minutes.
- For the meatballs:
- 1 lb lean ground beef [See Note 1]
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ cup uncooked Rolled Oats [See Note 2]
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup fresh spearmint, chopped finely
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
- ¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped finely [See Note 3]
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp Chipotle chili powder [See Note 4]
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the soup:
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice-sized cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups beef broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with chile peppers
- salt and pepper to taste
- Juice ½ of a lemon or lime juice [See Note 5]
- Optional Garnish:
- fresh cilantro, chopped finely
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom 5 qt stock pot to medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes to pot and cook for about 3 to 5.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl add all the meatball ingredients together and mix well. Shape into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, about golf ball size. Set aside.
- Next. add the broth, water, diced tomatoes and spices into the stock pot. Stir to combine.
- Add the meatballs to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cover continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Add lemon juice and herbs. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
1). Lean ground beef is important in this recipe. Otherwise, your soup broth will have a layer of broth floating on the top. You can strain this if you prefer.2). I used rolled oats in my meatballs to bulk them up with added fiber. To go a more traditional route, add 1/2 cup of rice in place of the rolled oats. This will also increase the overall cooking time from 30-minutes to about an hour. 3). You may substitute 1 tablespoon of dried oregano for the fresh oregano if you prefer. 4). Regular chili powder may be substituted for the chipotle chili powder. The soup will not have that aromatic and smoky flavor chipotle chili powder provides.5). The fresh lemon or lime juice brings a fresh acidity to the soup.
The time you’re in the mood for a warm and comforting bowl of soup, give this Mexican Meatball Soup a try. You will be so happy with it.
If you liked this Mexican Meatball Soup, you may also like: