Sopa de Albóndigas

I’ve always loved good food.  My mom made sure I tasted something delicious every day, no matter how humble the meal.  But I first started cooking “on purpose” when I began watching the Food Network.  Along with Sara Moulton’s Cooking Live (a fellow University of Michigan alum), I loved watching the Too Hot Tamales.  Maybe it was because Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were cooking food I was familiar with and their recipes were delicious?  Maybe it was because they were cooking in Los Angeles (my home town)?

Though I can’t be sure, I think I came across this cookbook at The Dawn Treader Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I used to work there part-time and had a chance to look through the books before they went out on the floor.  One of the perks of the job!

This recipe is from Cantina: The Best of Casual Mexican Cooking, published as part of a series of “casual cuisines of the world.”

Sopa de Albóndigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)

3/4 cup short-grain rice (I use Arborio)

1 1/2 cups water

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 white onions, finely diced

1 – 1 1/4 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 zucchini, diced

2 carrots, diced

3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

Cilantro (chopped), avocado (diced) and/or lime wedges for garnish to taste.

Put the rice, along with boiling water in a heatproof bowl.  Let the rice soak for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, drain the rice and set aside.


Heat a sauté pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil.  Sauté one of the diced onions until translucent.  Remove from the heat and cool.


In a bowl, combine the ground beef, cooled onion, drained rice, egg, cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper and 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.  With your hands, mix well and form into 1-inch balls.  Set aside on a plate.


Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add the rest of the onion and sauté until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, zucchini, carrots and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and 1 cup of water and stir well.  Bring to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling, carefully slip each meatball into the soup.  Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the meatballs are fully cooked (about 40 -45 minutes).  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Add more water or broth as desired but make sure to taste and season to your taste.


Ladle the soup into a bowl, adding a few meatballs to each bowl.  Add chopped cilantro, diced avocado and/or lime juice to taste.  I add a couple splashes of hot sauce at the end too.


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