Mexican cuisine is one of the most popular types of cuisine enjoyed worldwide. So many great recipes fall under its umbrella. Tacos, tostadas, tamales – but one dish many overlook is Mexican meatball soup!
If you want to try more unique Mexican dishes and recipes, this is the place for you.
Here, we will be looking at Mexico’s version of a classic meatball soup – albondigas soup – and how you can make it yourself at home.
Check out the recipe below, give it a go, and enjoy your Mexican meatball soup!
What Is Mexican Meatball Soup?
First, let’s talk about Mexican meatball soup – or, as it’s better known in Mexico, albondigas soup!
Albondigas are a special type of Spanish meatball. It’s used in various dishes from multiple Spanish-speaking countries around South and Central America. It’s also used in Mexican cuisine, including in soups (Also check out How To Make A Hearty Cowboy Soup).
As a result, albondigas soup and Mexican meatball soup are the same!
It’s a very hearty soup filled with tons of delicious ingredients. The albondigas (or meatballs) are thick and filling, so this recipe is a great one to try out if you are looking for a delicious Mexican supper!
It’s also packed with some amazing vegetables that provide a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients!
This means that following the recipe below can make a balanced meal with all the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Traditional albondigas soup is not very spicy, but add some chopped jalapenos if you prefer your Mexican dishes to have a kick of heat.
We have purposefully left them out of this recipe to make it more suitable for all – but adding in a chopped jalapeno is a quick and easy way to make your version of the Mexican meatball soup nice and hot!
Overall, this soup is an excellent option if you love Mexican cuisine. It’s filling, rich, and creamy, thanks to the addition of passata sauce.
It’s also a great comfort dish and easy to make once you have all the right ingredients. So, if you want to try it out, follow the simple recipe below!
History Of Mexican Meatball Soup
Mexican Meatball Soup, known as “Albondigas,” traces its roots back to Spain and the broader Mediterranean region, where meatball soups have been popular for centuries.
The dish was adapted and localized as it made its way to Mexico, embracing indigenous ingredients like chili peppers and cilantro.
Over time, it has become a staple in Mexican households, often prepared with family-specific recipes passed down through generations.
Albondigas embodies the rich cultural tapestry of Mexico, merging European influences with native flavors and ingredients.
Interesting Facts About The Mexican Meatball Soup
- Versatile Ingredients: Mexican Meatball Soup can be adapted to include a variety of meats, from beef and pork to chicken and turkey.
- Regional Variations: Different regions in Mexico offer unique twists on the recipe, sometimes including mint, chipotle, or even hard-boiled eggs.
- Ancient Influence: The concept of meatball soups dates back to ancient civilizations, but Mexico’s Albondigas Soup uniquely incorporates indigenous ingredients like corn and chilies.
- Nutritional Balance: The dish offers a balanced meal rich in protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
- Comfort Food: Albondigas is often considered a comfort food and is a popular choice for Mexican celebrations and family gatherings.
- Global Presence: The popularity of Mexican Meatball Soup has transcended borders, making appearances on menus worldwide.
- Homemade Tradition: It’s common for families to have their own heirloom Albondigas recipes passed down through generations.
What Makes The Mexican Meatball Soup Special?
- Flavor Complexity: A harmonious blend of spices like cumin, oregano, and chili peppers elevates the broth, giving it depth and warmth.
- Cultural Fusion: The melding of Spanish and indigenous Mexican culinary traditions creates a dish that embodies the region’s rich history.
- Wholesome Ingredients: Fresh vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and potatoes make this soup a balanced meal, rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Customizability: The recipe adapts to individual tastes and dietary requirements, allowing various meat and vegetable substitutions.
- Family Tradition: The soup is often associated with family gatherings and celebrations, symbolizing home and community.
- Nutritional Benefits: The high protein content from the meatballs and fiber from vegetables make it a nutritious choice.
- Time-Tested: With recipes handed down for generations, the soup represents tried-and-true culinary techniques.
|Beef Stock||6 cups|
|Passata||1 ½ cups|
|Potatoes||1 ½ cups (½-inch cubes)|
|Zucchini||1 medium (½-inch cubes)|
|Onion||1 medium-sized, diced|
|Carrot||1 medium, peeled and sliced/diced|
|Celery||2-3 stalks, diced|
|Green Beans||1 cup|
|Garlic||2 cloves, finely chopped|
|Olive Oil||2 tablespoons|
|Herbs||2 tablespoons oregano|
|Ground Beef||1 pound (lean)|
|Rice||¼ cup of long-grain|
|Garlic||2 cloves, minced or grated|
|Herbs||3 tablespoons cilantro, 2 tablespoons mint, 1 tablespoon oregano|
|Seasoning||½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper|
- Beef Stock: Opt for a low-sodium version to control the saltiness of your soup better.
- Passata: If unavailable, pureed tomatoes can serve as a decent substitute.
- Potatoes: Use waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold for better texture, as they hold their shape well during cooking.
- Zucchini: Choose smaller, firmer zucchini for better flavor and less water content.
- Onion: Yellow onions offer a well-rounded flavor, but red onions can add color and a slight bite.
- Carrot: For a richer flavor, consider roasting the carrots briefly before adding them to the soup.
- Celery: Use leaves along with stalks for added flavor depth.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?
- Keto: Instead of rice, use a thickening agent like xanthan gum for the meatballs and leave out the potatoes and beans.
- Paleo: Substitute white potatoes with sweet potatoes and use almond flour as a meatball binding agent.
- Gluten-Free: Ensure your beef stock is gluten-free, and use gluten-free breadcrumbs or rice as a binder in the meatballs.
- Whole30: Omit rice and dairy-based elements, and ensure all stocks and sauces are compliant.
- Vegetarian: Use vegetable stock and create meatballs from a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, and oats or quinoa.
- Vegan: Alongside vegetable stock, use plant-based meat substitutes for the meatballs and a flaxseed or chia seed “egg” as a binder.
- Meatballs: Mix ground beef, rice, egg, garlic, and herbs in a bowl. Shape into balls and refrigerate.
- Sauté Veggies: In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes.
- Soup Base: Add garlic, potatoes, zucchini, Passata, green beans, beef broth, and oregano. Stir well.
- Simmer: Bring to a boil, then add chilled meatballs. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve: Serve hot, garnished with extra herbs or seasoning as desired.
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings
- Spicy Version: Add chopped jalapeños or a splash of hot sauce for a kick.
- Cheesy Twist: Stir in some shredded cheese like cheddar or Mexican blend during the final minutes of simmering.
- Corn Kernels: For sweetness and texture.
- Black Beans: For added protein and fiber.
- Avocado Slices: For creaminess.
- Sour Cream: For a tangy twist.
- Fresh Herbs: Cilantro or parsley for a burst of freshness.
- Lime Wedges: For a zesty edge.
- Tortilla Strips: For crunch.
- Queso Fresco: A light Mexican cheese that crumbles easily.
Scaling The Recipe
- Volume: Choose a pot that can accommodate the scaled-up or scaled-down ingredients. The pot should be large enough for stirring without overflowing.
- Ingredient Ratios: Maintain the proportion of ingredients. For instance, if doubling the recipe, ensure all ingredients are doubled, not just the liquids or meat.
- Cooking Time: Increasing the quantity may require extended cooking time to ensure all elements are fully cooked. Conversely, reducing the quantity may shorten the cooking time.
- Serving Size: Adjust your serving size accordingly. A digital kitchen scale can help with precise measurements.
- Seasoning: Be cautious when scaling seasonings like salt and pepper. It’s best to season gradually and taste often to avoid overpowering the dish.
What Is Used For Garnishing?
- Fresh Herbs: Cilantro leaves are often used for their aromatic, new notes. Parsley can also be a lovely addition.
- Lime Wedges: Placed on the side, they allow diners to add a zesty tang according to their preference.
- Avocado Slices: These add a creamy richness that complements the savory nature of the soup.
- Sour Cream: A small dollop can add a tangy creaminess, balancing the spice and flavors.
- Tortilla Strips or Crumbled Tortilla Chips: These offer a contrasting crunchy texture.
- Queso Fresco: This crumbly Mexican cheese provides both flavor and visual appeal.
Can I Make Mexican Meatball Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?
Both slow cookers and Instant Pots are excellent options for making Mexican Meatball Soup.
- Prepare meatballs and refrigerate them as per the original recipe.
- Sauté vegetables in a separate pan, then transfer them to the slow cooker and other soup ingredients.
- Add meatballs, cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
- Use the sauté function to cook vegetables directly in the Instant Pot.
- Add remaining soup ingredients and meatballs.
- Seal the lid, set it to manual high pressure for 10 minutes, and then use the quick release.
Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?
Both store-bought and homemade broths can work well in a Mexican Meatball Soup recipe, each with its advantages and considerations:
- Convenience: It’s quick and readily available.
- Consistency: Commercial broths offer a uniform taste.
- Variety: Low-sodium, organic, or bone broth options can easily be found.
- Caution: Read labels to avoid broths with high sodium or artificial additives.
- Flavor: You control the ingredients, allowing for a richer, more customized flavor.
- Nutrition: Less sodium and no preservatives.
- Economical: An excellent way to use leftover bones and vegetable scraps.
Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?
- Ground Turkey or Chicken: Lighter but still flavorful.
- Fish Balls: Made from groundfish for a pescatarian option.
- Orzo or Ditalini: Small-sized pasta shapes that cook quickly.
- Gluten-Free Pasta: For those with dietary restrictions.
- Bell Peppers: Add sweetness and color.
- Mushrooms: Offer an earthy flavor and meaty texture.
Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Soup
Making a perfect bowl of soup involves nuances that can elevate the dish. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Mise en Place: Have all your ingredients chopped, measured, and ready before starting to save time and effort.
- Uniform Size: Cut veggies uniformly for even cooking.
- Meatball Consistency: Use an ice cream scoop for even-sized meatballs.
Cooking Time Tips
- Sauté Savvy: Don’t rush the sautéing process; softening the veggies adds depth.
- Simmer, Don’t Boil: A slow simmer helps blend flavors without overcooking ingredients.
- Taste and Adjust: Always taste before serving to adjust seasonings.
Mexican Meatball Soup packs a nutritious punch. Rich in protein from the beef, it also offers a dose of veggies. Low in saturated fats and high in fiber, this is comfort food you can feel good about.
What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?
Calculating the exact calorie count of your Mexican Meatball Soup depends on various factors, including portion size, the specific brand of ingredients used, and any optional add-ons.
Generally, a serving made from scratch using lean ground beef, essential vegetables, and low-sodium beef stock might range between 250-350 calories per bowl. The meatballs are often the most calorie-dense component, followed by the beef stock and added oil or fats.
It’s best to input your specific ingredients into a nutrition calculator or use nutrition analysis software for precise information.
Dietary Restrictions Of The Mexican Meatball Soup
- Meat: Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans unless meat substitutes are used.
- Gluten: The meatballs often contain rice, which is gluten-free, but if you’re adding pasta, choose a gluten-free variety.
- Dairy: The standard recipe is dairy-free unless you add cheese or sour cream.
- Low-Carb/Keto: Rice and potatoes add carbs; omit or replace with low-carb vegetables for a keto-friendly version.
- Sodium: Store-bought beef stock can be high in sodium; opt for a low-sodium version if needed.
- Allergens: Check the ingredients for potential allergens like garlic or certain herbs.
Health Benefits Of The Mexican Meatball Soup
- Protein: The ground beef in the meatballs provides essential amino acids and protein, vital for muscle repair and overall body function.
- Vitamins and Minerals: The medley of vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and green beans contribute vitamins A and C, as well as fiber and antioxidants.
- Low Fat: Using lean beef or poultry makes it a lower-fat option and benefits heart health.
- Bone Health: Homemade beef broth can be rich in collagen beneficial for joints and bones.
- Immune Boosting: Garlic and onions contain compounds known for their immune-boosting properties.
- Customizable: Can be easily adapted to include nutrient-dense, health-boosting ingredients.
How Can I Make Mexican Meatball Soup Lower In Sodium?
- Homemade Broth: Prepare your own beef or vegetable broth without added salt. This gives you complete control over sodium levels.
- Low-Sodium Store-Bought Broth: Choose a low-sodium or sodium-free commercial broth as a convenient alternative.
- Fresh Herbs and Spices: Enhance flavor with herbs like cilantro, oregano, and mint, as well as spices like cumin and chili powder, instead of relying on salt.
- Limit Processed Ingredients: Avoid processed foods, such as canned tomatoes with added salt. Opt for fresh tomatoes or no-salt-added canned versions.
- Adjust Seasoning: Use minimal salt, taste as you go, and encourage individual seasoning at the table.
How Can I Make Mexican Meatball Soup Lower In Sugar?
- Choose No-Sugar-Added Broth: Some store-bought broths may contain added sugars; always read labels carefully.
- Use Fresh Tomatoes: Instead of processed tomato sauces like Passata, use fresh tomatoes with no added sugars.
- Avoid Sweet Vegetables: Carrots add a subtle sweetness; if you want to reduce sugar, consider omitting them.
- Herbs and Spices: Utilize herbs like oregano and cilantro to add flavor complexity without adding sugar.
- Read Labels: If using canned or processed ingredients, choose “no added sugars.”
How To Serve The Mexican Meatball Soup At Its Best?
- Temperature: Serve the soup piping hot to emphasize its comforting qualities.
- Presentation: Use a deep bowl to showcase the variety of ingredients. Position meatballs centrally for visual appeal.
- Garnish: Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro or a wedge of lime for color and zest. A dollop of sour cream or crumbled queso fresco can add creaminess.
- Complementary Sides: Serve with warm tortillas, cornbread, or a slice of lime for extra flavor.
- Individual Seasoning: Place small bowls of chopped onions, jalapeños, and lime wedges on the table for individual customization.
Perfect Side Dishes To Complement Mexican Meatball Soup
Because albondigas soup is a traditional Mexican dish, it works well with lots of other traditional Mexican side dishes. This includes tortilla chips, sliced avocados, or plain tortillas.
Alternatively, you can serve some nice warm bread instead. As this dish is a soup, serving bread makes sense as it works great at soaking up the liquids of the soup. This means that you can finish your meal with a spotless bowl!
Cornbread is a great bread to serve with albondigas soup, as it’s slightly sweet and captures the classic flavors of Mexican cuisine.
How Long Can We Store The Soup?
- The answer depends on how well you store your Mexican meatball soup. Leaving it in a covered pot at room temperature won’t stay good for more than a day.
- On the other hand, if you store your soup in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator, then the soup should last at least 3 days.
- You must reheat it before serving (either in a microwave or in a pot over low-medium heat).
- You can also freeze your Mexican meatball soup. Storing it in the freezer will keep it good for around 3 months, so you can enjoy your soup much later if you desire.
- This also makes this recipe an excellent choice for batch cooking well in advance, so you can cut back on cooking times whenever you want to enjoy this delicious soup!
Can I Make The Soup In Advance?
Mexican Meatball Soup is an ideal make-ahead dish. You can prepare the meatballs and soup base separately a day in advance. Store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to serve, reheat the soup base on the stovetop, add the chilled meatballs, and simmer until fully cooked.
This method saves time and may allow flavors to meld, enhancing the overall taste. Just remember to adjust seasonings and herbs before serving for optimal flavor.
What Can We Do With Leftovers?
- Taco Filling: Shred the meatballs and mix with the soup veggies to create a hearty taco filling.
- Pasta Sauce: Reduce the liquid and serve it over pasta for an easy, Mexican-inspired dish.
- Stuffed Peppers: Fill bell peppers with leftover meatballs and vegetables, top with cheese, and bake.
- Frittata: Use the meatballs and veggies as a base for a Mexican-style frittata. Add eggs and cheese before baking.
- Rice Bowls: Serve leftover meatballs and veggies over a bed of rice, garnished with fresh herbs.
- Quesadilla: Layer shredded meatballs and veggies between tortillas with cheese for a quick quesadilla.
- Meatball Sandwich: Place meatballs in a sub roll, add a little of the soup base as sauce, and top with melted cheese for a meatball sandwich with a Mexican twist.
Special Tools/Equipment Needed
- Large Pot: A large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven is crucial for simmering the soup and ensuring even heat distribution.
- Mixing Bowls: Various sizes will help mix meatball ingredients and prepare veggies.
- Cutting Board and Knives: A large cutting board and sharp knives are essential for chopping vegetables and herbs.
- Ice Cream Scoop: Useful for portioning out uniform meatballs.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are key to balancing flavors.
- Wooden Spoon: For stirring the soup and sautéing vegetables without damaging your pot.
- Ladle: For serving the soup without making a mess.
- Airtight Containers: For storing leftovers or prepped ingredients.
- Microplane or Garlic Press: For finely grating garlic into the meatball mixture and soup base.
- Timer: To ensure accurate cooking times, especially for simmering the soup and meatballs.
- Slotted Spoon: Useful for removing meatballs or vegetables while testing for doneness.
And that’s it! That’s all you need to know to make your batch of Mexican meatball soup!
We hope this guide has helped you and made you feel confident to try this traditional Mexican dish. Once you have all the ingredients, it’s easy to make – follow the steps above!
Give it a try and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Make This Soup Spicy?
Add a diced jalapeño or serrano pepper to the vegetable sauté if you enjoy a spicy kick. Add a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper for extra heat.
Is This Soup Suitable For Children?
Yes, this soup is generally kid-friendly, especially if you keep the spiciness to a minimum. You can also make the meatballs smaller for easier consumption by little ones.
How Do I Know When The Meatballs Are Cooked Through?
The meatballs should be cooked through after simmering in the soup for about 20 minutes. To be sure, you can cut one open to check that it is no longer pink in the middle or use a meat thermometer to confirm it has reached a safe internal temperature of 160°F.
Can I Use Frozen Vegetables?
Yes, you can use frozen vegetables as a time-saving alternative. Remember that they may require a shorter cooking time, so adjust accordingly.
What’s The Best Way To Reheat Leftovers?
For the best results, reheat the soup on the stovetop over low heat until warmed. If you’re using a microwave, stir the soup halfway through heating to ensure even warming. Avoid boiling the soup as it may affect the texture of the meatballs and vegetables.
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