The main spice is cumin, which is from the Middle East, but this dish actually originated in Spain. (Albondigas is Spanish for meatball.) When I don't have curry powder on hand, cumin gets me most of the way there. Cumin gives bland ground poultry a pungent and aromatic kick. And for stuffing meatballs, rice is a tasty change of pace.
My Albondigas is economical. Normally it's made with ground beef, but that is too expensive for this Chintzy Chef. I prefer to use deli case frozen ground turkey or chicken, which I normally get for about $1 per pound. And ground turkey is low in fat, so your soup will not be oily, like it would be at a regular Mexican restaurant.
Rice, potatoes, celery, onions and carrots can be bought cheaply anywhere. I also added Mexican squash, but zucchini or yellow squash is a tasty substitute. This dish is adaptable with whatever veggies you have on hand. I used cilantro because my neighborhood Latin market always has it on sale, but don't worry if you don't have it locally; this soup will be delish without it. I like to change up my recipes by adding or dropping ingredients -- it will not be lacking, just different.
So give my Albondigas Soup a try. It is easy to do and tastes even better the next day.
Ingredients for Soup (about 4 servings)
- 8 cups of water - or combo of favorite broth and water.
- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce - okay to use any type of canned or fresh chopped tomatoes.
- 1 large potato - I used 2 small potatoes, cubed
- 1 large carrot - sliced
- 1 celery rib - sliced
- 1 whole onion - chopped
- 1 Mexican squash - okay to use zucchini or yellow squash, cubed.
- 1 tablespoon garlic - chopped fresh or from jar.
- 1 bunch cilantro - optional. Use half the bunch, and save some for plating.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for Rice Meatball
- 1 pound or ground turkey or chicken - okay to use more expensive ground meat.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano - optional
- 1 whole egg
- 1/2 cup of uncooked rice - I used brown but you can use white as well - For cooked rice use one cup, and reduce cooking time by going right to Final Cooking Directions.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Meatballs
Start heating 8 cups of water in a large soup pot. In a large bowl add ground turkey (or chicken), egg, rice, dried oregano and ground cumin. Mix well.
When all the meatballs are in the water, add chopped onion, celery, garlic and 1/2 of the chopped cilantro. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to low. (If you used cooked rice in meatballs then go right to next paragraph). Cook 1/2 hour for white rice or 45 minutes for brown rice. Turn meatballs a couple of times during cooking to make sure rice cooks through.
Final Cooking Directions
Add can of tomato sauce, and chopped potatoes, carrots and more cilantro (set aside a few sprigs for presentation) to soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook 1/2 hour. Lastly, add zucchini or Mexican squash (or any quick cooking veggies you like), then cover and cook another 10 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Serve hot with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro.