Mexican Soup: A Great Recipe for Families

Albondigas: Mexican Meatball Soup
Albondigas: Mexican Meatball Soup
5 stars from 1 rating of Albóndigas
Alberto, my father and culinary mentor.
Alberto, my father and culinary mentor. | Source

It is Saturday afternoon. The aromatic smells of oregano and onions and garlic are caressing my senses, and I am beginning to tremble with anticipation. Saturday is Dad’s day to cook, and 3 o’clock is nearly here. Soon he will call the family together to the table. Finally, it will be time to eat!

This was the scene at my house on Saturdays when I was young. Many wonderful meals were shared at our table and most of them came to us from my Litah, my Dad’s mother. Her Mexican meatball soup, known as Albóndigas, was serious comfort food. Its warmth and gentle mixture of flavors still whispers of home for me even today. In this article, I will share this recipe with you that it might come to have a place in your home as well.

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Ingredients for Albondigas
Ingredients for Albondigas

Alternative Ingredients:

Albondigas is made in all kinds of ways. Here are some ways to play with the flavor:

  • NOTE: My father always made this with green pepper as well, but my wife is allergic to it, so I leave it out--tastes great either way! He also threw in frozen corn on the cob once in awhile for a special and unique treat (but it'll take a bit longer to cook).
  • Add to the meatballs: mint, rice, egg, bread crumbs, cilantro, cumin or try a different meat base like lamb, chicken or turkey
  • Add to the soup: black beans, corn, celery, noodles or chili peppers of any kind

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano, for meatballs
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, for meatballs
  • 1/2 tsp salt, for meatballs
  • 3/4 tsp minced garlic, for meatballs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh tomato
  • 1 1/2 cups green onion
  • dash olive oil
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp Menudo Mix, (if unavailable, substitute 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, and a dash of lemon zest)
  • 1 Tbsp salt, for soup
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, for soup--add more if you like it spicier
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, for soup
  • 1 lb. fresh carrots
  • 1/2 head cabbage

Note: Complete video instructions are available for this recipe toward the bottom of this article. All written instructions have been time stamped so readers can easily access video instructions for particular elements of the process.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Meatball Spices: Add 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp minced garlic to 1 lb. of lean ground beef.Making Meatballs: Shape meatball mixture into 3/4 to 1 inch balls.Dicing the Tomato: Dice 1 1/2 cups of tomato.Dicing the Green Onion: Dice 1 1/2 cups of green onion.Mincing the Garlic: Mince 1 Tbsp of garlic.Adding Albondigas Vegetables to the Pot: Put tomatoes, onions and garlic into a soup pot.Adding Olive Oil to the Albondigas Pot: Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil.Sauteing the Albondigas Vegetables: Sauté the vegetables at medium high temperature for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.Adding Water to the Albondigas Pot: Add 12 cups of water to the soup pot.Adding Albondigas Spices to the Pot: Add 1/2 tsp Menudo Mix, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp oregano to the soup pot and mix.Adding Meatballs to the Albondigas Pot: Drop meatballs into the pot and cook for 10 minutes.Chopping Cabbage for Albondigas: Chop 1/2 head of cabbage while the meatballs cook.Adding Carrots to the Albondigas Pot: Add 1 lb. of fresh carrots to the soup pot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.Adding Cabbage to the Albondigas Pot: Add cabbage to the soup pot and cook for 10 minutes.The Albondigas is Looking Good!:  Turn the stove off and allow the soup to finish cooking as the burner cools.Qué Deliciosa!:  Grab a flour tortilla and have a great meal with the family!
Meatball Spices: Add 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp minced garlic to 1 lb. of lean ground beef.
Meatball Spices: Add 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp minced garlic to 1 lb. of lean ground beef.
Making Meatballs: Shape meatball mixture into 3/4 to 1 inch balls.
Making Meatballs: Shape meatball mixture into 3/4 to 1 inch balls.
Dicing the Tomato: Dice 1 1/2 cups of tomato.
Dicing the Tomato: Dice 1 1/2 cups of tomato.
Dicing the Green Onion: Dice 1 1/2 cups of green onion.
Dicing the Green Onion: Dice 1 1/2 cups of green onion.
Mincing the Garlic: Mince 1 Tbsp of garlic.
Mincing the Garlic: Mince 1 Tbsp of garlic.
Adding Albondigas Vegetables to the Pot: Put tomatoes, onions and garlic into a soup pot.
Adding Albondigas Vegetables to the Pot: Put tomatoes, onions and garlic into a soup pot.
Adding Olive Oil to the Albondigas Pot: Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil.
Adding Olive Oil to the Albondigas Pot: Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil.
Sauteing the Albondigas Vegetables: Sauté the vegetables at medium high temperature for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Sauteing the Albondigas Vegetables: Sauté the vegetables at medium high temperature for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Adding Water to the Albondigas Pot: Add 12 cups of water to the soup pot.
Adding Water to the Albondigas Pot: Add 12 cups of water to the soup pot.
Adding Albondigas Spices to the Pot: Add 1/2 tsp Menudo Mix, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp oregano to the soup pot and mix.
Adding Albondigas Spices to the Pot: Add 1/2 tsp Menudo Mix, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp oregano to the soup pot and mix.
Adding Meatballs to the Albondigas Pot: Drop meatballs into the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Adding Meatballs to the Albondigas Pot: Drop meatballs into the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Chopping Cabbage for Albondigas: Chop 1/2 head of cabbage while the meatballs cook.
Chopping Cabbage for Albondigas: Chop 1/2 head of cabbage while the meatballs cook.
Adding Carrots to the Albondigas Pot: Add 1 lb. of fresh carrots to the soup pot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
Adding Carrots to the Albondigas Pot: Add 1 lb. of fresh carrots to the soup pot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
Adding Cabbage to the Albondigas Pot: Add cabbage to the soup pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Adding Cabbage to the Albondigas Pot: Add cabbage to the soup pot and cook for 10 minutes.
The Albondigas is Looking Good!:  Turn the stove off and allow the soup to finish cooking as the burner cools.
The Albondigas is Looking Good!: Turn the stove off and allow the soup to finish cooking as the burner cools.
Qué Deliciosa!:  Grab a flour tortilla and have a great meal with the family!
Qué Deliciosa!: Grab a flour tortilla and have a great meal with the family!

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 40 min
  • Cook time: 45 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour 25 min
  • Yields: Serves six people two to three bowls of soup.
  1. Add the first four ingredients--1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp garlic--to lean ground beef and mix thoroughly. (Video: 0:45)
  2. Form the spiced ground beef into meatballs approximately 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. (Video: 1:46)
  3. Dice 1 1/2 cups of fresh tomatoes. (Video: 2:20)
  4. Chop 1 1/2 cups of green onion. (Video: 2:46)
  5. Mince 1 Tbsp of garlic. (Video: 3:13)
  6. Place tomatoes, onion and garlic into a large pot. (Video: 3:38)
  7. Add a touch of olive oil to the pot and simmer these vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Video: 3:42)
  8. After the initial vegetables have been sauteed, add 12 cups of water. (Video: 4:31)
  9. Add soup spices to the emerging broth--1/2 tsp Menudo Mix, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp dried oregano. (Video: 4:48)
  10. Add raw meatballs to the broth and cook for 10 minutes. (Video: 5:56)
  11. While the meatballs cook, dice carrots (unless using baby carrots) and chop cabbage. (Video: 6:34)
  12. Add carrots to the broth, reduce heat to medium and allow it to cook for 15 minutes. (Video: 7:42)
  13. Add cabbage and allow it to cook for 10 more minutes. (Video: 8:23)
  14. Turn off the over burner and allow the soup to finish cooking as the burner cools. (Video: 8:50)
  15. Grab a tortilla and dig in! (Video: 9:22)
Maria Theresa, my Litah
Maria Theresa, my Litah | Source

Brief History of Albondigas

Albondigas follows a line of culinary influence that runs back through the heart of Mexico, through the Spanish conquistadors back to Spain, and into the 6th century when the area was dominated by Islamic influence.

Family Meals at Litah's Table

I spent a great deal of time with my Litah from the time I was born until about age five. My Litah and Lito often took care of me, so I really got to know that little adobe house down there in El Paso where my Lito built it with his own hands. It was very small, but deeply welcoming. Very few times did I ever have dinner in that house with my Litah and Lito alone.

In the afternoons, the house was quiet. Lito was drawing with India ink and Litah was in the kitchen. I was in the living room playing with Velvet, their black lab. Around 4:30, however, the people began to arrive. Friends, relatives and neighbors dropped in to say hello...and maybe stay for dinner. There were almost always a few guests, and sometimes there were droves.

No matter how many came, they all left with a full belly.

Their dear home, now just a memory, is where this particular version of Albondigas lived. I take great pleasure in now sharing it with you.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2-3 Moderately-Sized Bowls
Calories 269
Calories from Fat126
% Daily Value *
Fat 14 g22%
Saturated fat 6 g30%
Unsaturated fat 1 g
Carbohydrates 7 g2%
Sugar 4 g
Fiber 5 g20%
Protein 16 g32%
Cholesterol 57 mg19%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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Comments 18 comments

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

My goodness what a lot of work has gone into this hub. I'm not a meat eater, but had to take a look. I've been feeling pleased with progress in Photoshop lately, but I can see I still have a LONG way to go. Your pics are amazing!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Albondigas happens to be one of my favorite dishes so I'm thrilled to have your recipe. I enjoyed the family history as well. Thanks!


lady rain profile image

lady rain 4 years ago from Australia

I love soups and your recipe looks absolutely mouthwatering. I think I will try it out for dinner!


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Melovy,

Thanks so much for stopping in to take a look--particularly since you are a vegetarian. I really enjoyed creating the look of the recipe. I could spend a lot more time doing such things if there were any way to recuperate the financial loss that comes as a result of the time loss. Oh, well.

I sincerely appreciate your enthusiasm for the appearance of the work--thanks!

Bert


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Vespawoolf,

This is one of a few staple meals that I try to make regularly. It's inexpensive, fairly fast, reasonably healthy and just plain good. Thanks for your enthusiasm and I do hope that the recipe turns out well for you.


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Lady Rain,

It means a great deal to have someone want to dive right in and give the recipe a try. Be sure to get some flour tortillas to go with it. There's nothing like finishing up a bowl of this by sopping up the leftover juice with your tortilla.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and enjoy!

Bert


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I love reading your recipes - I learn so much about the flavoring techniques you grew up with! Thanks for the touching insight to your family life - you were very blessed to have your Litah and Lito! Voted up and up!


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Marcy,

Once again, sincere thanks for your supportive comment. This recipe is most definitely something that speaks to my heart-memories of growing up where I did. So much to be thankful for!

Blessings to you, Marcy.

Bert


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Excellent presentation! I love albondigas and never knew how to make it. Thanks.


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Austinstar,

My thanks for taking the time to read. It a tasty and simple recipe. I hope you get to enjoy it sometime soon,

Bert


kelleyward 4 years ago

Congrats wayseeker on this winning recipe hub!


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Thanks, Kelley! I was surprised by this one as not many folks saw it when it first came out. I appreciate your visit.

Bert


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

Enjoyed reading this hub. Love the family story behind your love for this soup. I love soup, so I'm game to try it. Congrats on your win.


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Anglnwu,

Thank you for taking the time to read. It is a beloved recipe, and an honor to have won a place in the contest with it. I hope you get the chance to enjoy it sometime soon,

Bert


Mmargie1966 profile image

Mmargie1966 4 years ago from Gainesville, GA

That sounds quite yummy! I enjoyed the history of the recipe as well.

I'll have to give it a try.


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Margie,

It's a tasty recipe and the stories are close to my heart. Thanks for stopping to give this a read,

wayseeker


Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 4 years ago from Bangalore,India

How authentic! Wayseeker, you must love your litah. Your soup looks delicious and wholesome. What a warm way to enjoy your family meal. Truly inspiring recipe hub. A great video, wonderful pics of every step, and a well deserved win. Congrats!


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Purple Perl,

My Litah was a great joy in my life, and I dearly love all of the authentic meals that have come down to me through her. It's a wonderful dish.

My thanks for the congratulations and taking the time to read,

wayseeker

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