This soup sounds more exotic than it really is — Albondigas is Spanish for meatballs. You can use just about any kind of meat you’d like in this recipe, but my favorite is ground turkey. A combo of ground pork and ground beef works well, too, and if you like it spicy, you could even use some chorizo. One thing albondigas need is uncooked rice added to the meat mixture. This is what sets them apart from regular meatballs. The meat and rice mixture simmer in a broth until the rice is fully plumped up and cooked. It soaks up the delicious flavors that are built-in whatever broth and seasonings you are using and tastes divine!
I make a simple vegetable soup base to simmer my meatballs in using whatever stock I have on hand, onions, garlic, tomatoes and carrots. About half way through the cooking process, I add in some green beans and bell peppers and once the meatballs are nearly cooked through, I add some chopped zucchini. Zucchini is one of those veggies that is traditional in Mexican albondigas soup. It tastes amazing!
If you make this soup, I think you will agree that it is perfect for these crisp nights in autumn. It warms you up and isn’t heavy, but is still very satisfying. For those who are gluten-free, it is all of that and then some. It’s just truly a delicious soup that can be tailored to your tastes. I hope you give it a try!
What you need to make a big ole pot of albondigas soup:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 Cup)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hand or 2 Cups of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 Cups)
1/2 Cup diced red bell pepper
1 Cup of fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 Cup long grain white rice or jasmine rice
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs (I used gluten free bread crumbs)
1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 Cups beef stock
1-2 Cups water
salt and pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add your onions and carrots and saute for about 4-5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute until fragrant. After this, add your stock, water, tomatoes, thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, mix together you turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, Italian seasoning, and rice and form into golf ball sized meatballs. I find that the best way to mix this is with my hands. There is just no way around it. Carefully add the meatballs to the simmering broth as you make them. Once all the meatballs are added, cover the pot and let it be for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes of simmering, add the green beans and bell pepper to the soup, stirring your meatballs gently. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, then add your diced zucchini and simmer another 15 minutes. At this point, your rice should be entirely cooked throughout the meatballs, but test one to make sure. If it isn’t, just cover and let it cook longer until they are cooked through.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. This is so delicious and makes wonderful leftovers the next day. Feel free to change your flavor combinations too — a lot of authentic Mexican recipes require cumin and cilantro. I like a more classic vegetable soup base, so I use Italian herbs. Enjoy!