Albondigas Soup is a broth-based traditional Mexican soup loaded with tender beef meatballs and veggies for a hearty and healthy soup recipe. I love a one-pot soup recipe and this recipe for Albondigas Soup may just be my new favorite!
I’m so excited to announce my first Soup Week! This week, I’ll be posting 6 new soup recipes that are sure to satisfy as the weather gets cooler. I am a huge soup evangelical and I’m so happy to bring you some of my favorites this week!
My first recipe for Soup Week is this ultra-flavorful and comforting Albondigas Soup. This is a great soup recipe for using up veggies from the crisper drawer and is both hearty and healthy! Tender beef meatballs are infused with rice instead of bread crumbs, spices, and fresh herbs that feel light and juicy.
An easy roasted tomato sauce bolsters chicken broth for a flavorful soup base that’s so comforting and perfect. From here, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and green beans add tons of texture and flavor.
Albondigas Soup: Mexican Meatball Soup
If you aren’t familiar with Albondigas Soup, I’m excited to make the introduction because this soup is so incredible! Albondigas soup tastes both fresh from the herbs and veggies and comforting from the meatballs and potatoes. It’s a soup that I ate so many times growing up and I’m thrilled to share the recipe with you!
Like most Mexican recipes, Albondigas recipes vary by household and region. I am sharing the way that I was taught to make it which may be totally different from yours or a family member’s version. Regardless, all versions are still hearty and delicious!
If you are looking for a hearty, healthy, and delicious one-pot soup recipe I know you are going to love this recipe for Albondigas Soup!
What is Albondigas Soup?
Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs, so Albondigas Soup simply means Meatball Soup! But ‘meatball soup’ does not really do this soup justice! It’s the furthest thing from basic and absolutely packed with flavor.
The meatballs are loaded with spices like cumin, garlic, and chili powder that give the soup a warm quality. They’re also packed with fresh cilantro and mint which keep the meatballs feeling fresh and light. You may be raising an eyebrow at the mint, but it works.
While there are some possible substitutions for this recipe, I urge you to give it a shot as written so that you can really get the full experience!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
There are a lot of reasons to love Albondigas soup! I have a feeling this soup recipe is going to become a staple in your cooking endeavors.
Customizable – Albondigas soup is totally customizable! I always make the meatballs with beef, but you could swap in another ground meat if that’s what you have! You can swap the veggies, type of broth, etc. to accommodate what you have in your fridge and pantry.
Healthy – This is a healthy and balanced recipe! I always make my albondigas with 90/10 ground beef to cut down on the fat without skimping on flavor. I love an easy way to add more veggies into my diet.
One Pot – On busy weeknights, I love ANY recipe that can be made in one pot on the stove! In my recipe for albondigas, you can simmer the meatballs directly in the broth OR broil them lightly before adding them. Either way, cooking these meatballs is so easy.
How to Make Albondigas Soup
This recipe for Albondigas Soup couldn’t be easier to make! I recommend investing in a large dutch oven which is what I make all my soups in. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list, either. It’s mostly fresh produce and spices you’ll likely have on hand.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground Beef. I like to use 90/10 ground sirloin so that the meatballs aren’t super fatty, but you can use 80/20 or a mix of ground beef and pork, or another ground meat.
- Spices. Cumin, Chili Powder, and Garlic Powder add lots of flavor to the meatballs.
- Cooked White Rice. Instead of using breadcrumbs, white rice acts as the binding agent here. This recipe is great for using up leftover rice!
- Egg. An egg also works with with rice to bind the meatballs together.
- Herbs. Cilantro and mint go into the meatball mixture, plus a little cilantro added to the soup at the end. If you’re not a cilantro person, you could swap in parsley.
- Tomatoes. I start by roasting roma tomatoes and garlic to make a tomato sauce that becomes the flavor base of the soup. You could use canned tomatoes in the soup and skip that part altogether if needed.
- Chile de Arbol. Chile de Arbol is a dried Mexican chile that you can find in the spice section of most grocery stores. They add a bit of heat to the soup. If you can’t find them, you can swap in some crushed red pepper flakes.
- Veggies. I used onion, carrot, potato, zucchini, and green beans in the Albondigas Soup. You could swap in different veggies if that’s what you have.
- Broth. I always use homemade chicken broth, but you can use store bought chicken or beef broth.
- Bouillon cube. I like adding a beef bouillon cube to bolster the flavor of the broth. It’s totally optional!
- Roast the tomatoes and garlic. Toss the garlic and quartered tomatoes together with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until the tomatoes are blistered. Transfer to a blender with the chile de arbol and blend until very smooth. This tomato mixture will be the base of our soup and it adds so much flavor!
- Mix the meatballs. Combine the ingredients for the meatballs in a mixing bowl and mix by hand until JUST combined. I always mix meatballs by hand to avoid over-mixing them which makes meatballs tough. Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the meat mixture and roll them into balls. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Broil the meatballs. Broil the meatballs in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until just starting to brown on top. Broiling the meatballs for Albondigas Soup adds flavor and keeps the soup from getting greasy.
- Start the soup. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and the blended tomato mixture for 3-4 minutes, until some of the liquid evaporates. Add the chicken stock, bouillon, carrots, potatoes, and meatballs and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the veggies. Add the zucchini and green beans and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, just until the veggies are tender, but not mushy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve with limes and more cilantro.
Tips for Perfect Meatballs
I have a couple of tips for making the perfect meatballs for Albondigas Soup. They’re perfectly tender without ever drying out.
- Mix well, but don’t over work the meatballs. Over-mixing meatballs can make them tough and chewy. Mix the ground meat gently with the other ingredients and the beaten egg just until everything holds together. It’s always best to mix by hand!
- Use a scoop for even cooking. I love using a cookie scoop so that I can ensure the meatballs are all the same size and that they cook evenly.
- Use damp hands to roll the meatballs. Using damp hands keeps the meat from sticking and keeps them nice and smooth.
- Broil the meatballs. Broiling your meatballs instead of browning them in the pan makes for way less mess! You get the nice browning without all the messy work. You also cook a little of the fat off before the meatballs go into the soup so the Albondigas soup never ends up greasy.
Storing, Freezing and Reheating Albondigas Soup
As with all soups, Albondigas Soup tastes even better the next day so feel free to make it ahead of time for lunches or dinners.
To store Albondigas Soup: Cool the soup to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. When properly stored, it is good for 3-5 days.
To reheat Albondigas Soup: You can reheat large batches of Albondigas Soup on the stove over medium low heat, stirring gently until warmed through. Add additional water or broth as needed to reach desired consistency.
To Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing the soup as a whole (though you can!), because the veggies get a little weird after defrosting. If that doesn’t bother you, then freeze away! Transfer cooled soup to a freezer-safe gallon-ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Alternately, you can freeze the meatballs solo after broiling them and drop them into soup frozen at a later date.
More Soup Recipes to Try Now
Creamy Loaded Cauliflower Soup
Chicken Wonton Soup
Roasted Tomato Soup
Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup
Creamy White Chicken Chili
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- 1 lb ground beef or sirloin (90/10)
- 1/4 white onion, finely minced
- 1/2 cup cooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup minced cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 4 roma tomatoes, quartered
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3-4 chile de arbol
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3/4 white onion, diced
- 1 lb Yukon gold or baby potatoes, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 6 cups chicken or beef stock, homemade is best
- 1 beef or chicken bouillon cube
- 2 cups green beans cut into 1" pieces
- 1 large zucchini, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Mix by hand until all the ingredients are just mixed. Take care not to overmix.
- Using a 1-2 tablespoon scoop, portion the meat mixture and roll into balls. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Arrange an oven rack to be near the broiler and broil the meatballs on high for 7-8 minutes, until just barely browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Preheat an oven to 425 F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the quartered tomatoes and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour them onto the tray and group everything together in the center (this keeps the garlic from burning!). Roast for 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered. Transfer to a blender with the chile de arbol and blend until smooth.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the white onion and tomato mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bouillon, carrots, and potatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and green beans to the pot and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until the veggies are just barely tender without being mushy. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve with limes and tortillas on the side for dipping.