Saturday, January 22, 2011

Albondigas - Mexican Meatball Soup

Austria and Sweden fry theirs; the Chinese like theirs steamed; while Poland covers them in gravy and Japan coats in Panko crumbs. In Vietnam, they float in brothy Pho; in Brazil, they are served over rice; in Iran, they are stuffed with a boiled egg, and in Greece -- mint leaves. In this week's recipe, The 99 Cent Chef does his meatballs the Latin way -- studded with rice and seasoned with cumin, and floating in a tomato broth loaded with vegetables.

I like meatballs. You can see for yourself by clicking on my past recipes: Ingmar Bergman Swedish Meatballs, a Meatball Sub, and my Lighter Than Air Meatballs & Spaghetti. Now you can add Albondigas Soup to the chalkboard menu.

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.

The messy part is forming small meatballs - about 1 to 1.5 inch diameter each (and fits into a tablespoon). I made about 14 meatballs. If water is boiling, turn to low and carefully add each meatball to pot as you form them.

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.


Dinahsoar said...

This looks wonderful...must try.

Years ago I had neighbors who were from Mexico. The lady offered me some zucchini which she had grown. I thanked her and told her I'd never eaten it--truth, the only veg my mom served was English peas, green beans, corn and potatoes--and that I didn't know how to prepare it.

A few days later, a knock at my door and she delivered a wonderful dish with pork, zucchini,tomato sauce and some seasonings...I think it had been slow cooked because the pork was fork tender--I think it might have been pork steak or chop that had been cubed. It was delicious...husband and I scarfed it down.

Because of her generosity and charity (in the Biblical sense, i.e. brotherly love) I was introduced to a vegetable I might never have tried. And I've always remembered her kindness--she in a strange country reaching out to me (I was very young and quite shy.)

Our small northern town had a huge cannery operation --now defunct--and would go to Mexico and bring migrant workers back by the bus loads, providing them with lodging and transportation to and from work. Many brought their families and rented houses in the area during the season.

Over the years I've been adventurous and tried many vegetables, all of which I love to eat. I've never met one I didn't like--to date.

Rochelle R. said...

That looks so good! My family used to enjoy the canned albondigas soup but I haven't been able to find it for several years. I will be sure to try your recipe.

99 Cent Chef said...

hi Dinah, thanks for your tasty veggie tale ;-)

That's Ron said...

This is certainly a must try. Good job man!

Unknown said...

This looks so yummy! I am so gonna make this! Love your blog

TLSF said...

Just tried this, and it is GREAT!! I added 1/2 a bag of frozen peas that were languishing in the freezer, and I did not go and grab cilantro. Reading this earlier, I was like "Hey! I have all of this stuff in my house!" Except for the cilantro, that is. So far, of the recipes that I have tried from your site, we are 3 for 3 in delicious satisfaction with the finished product. Please keep them coming!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...