Mexican Soup: A Great Recipe for Families
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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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
- 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.
- Prep time: 40 min
- Cook time: 45 min
- Ready in: 1 hour 25 min
- Yields: Serves six people two to three bowls of soup.
- 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)
- Form the spiced ground beef into meatballs approximately 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. (Video: 1:46)
- Dice 1 1/2 cups of fresh tomatoes. (Video: 2:20)
- Chop 1 1/2 cups of green onion. (Video: 2:46)
- Mince 1 Tbsp of garlic. (Video: 3:13)
- Place tomatoes, onion and garlic into a large pot. (Video: 3:38)
- Add a touch of olive oil to the pot and simmer these vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Video: 3:42)
- After the initial vegetables have been sauteed, add 12 cups of water. (Video: 4:31)
- 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)
- Add raw meatballs to the broth and cook for 10 minutes. (Video: 5:56)
- While the meatballs cook, dice carrots (unless using baby carrots) and chop cabbage. (Video: 6:34)
- Add carrots to the broth, reduce heat to medium and allow it to cook for 15 minutes. (Video: 7:42)
- Add cabbage and allow it to cook for 10 more minutes. (Video: 8:23)
- Turn off the over burner and allow the soup to finish cooking as the burner cools. (Video: 8:50)
- Grab a tortilla and dig in! (Video: 9:22)
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.
|Serving size: 2-3 Moderately-Sized Bowls|
|Calories from Fat||126|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 14 g||22%|
|Saturated fat 6 g||30%|
|Unsaturated fat 1 g|
|Carbohydrates 7 g||2%|
|Sugar 4 g|
|Fiber 5 g||20%|
|Protein 16 g||32%|
|Cholesterol 57 mg||19%|
|* 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.|