Albondigas Soup, the Mexican version of Meatballs Soup is hearty, flavorful and super satisfying. This Albondigas Soup recipe is made with lean ground beef and rice meatballs with lots of vegetables in a savory and light broth.
We love making authentic Mexican recipes for dinner. This Chile Colorado beef stew is one of our favorite meals.
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Albondigas Soup Recipe
Traditional Mexican Meatball Soup also known as caldo de albóndigas or sopa de albóndigas is a hearty soup with tender meatballs and lots of veggies in a flavorful broth.
This albondigas soup recipe has a special place in my heart. After having a large bowl of albóndigas soup at a Mexican restaurant, I knew I had to find a recipe for this traditional Mexican soup. At that time, I didn’t know how to cook much at all and the thought of making homemade meatballs (or Mexican meatballs) for the first time was intimidating but, this was one of the best soups I ever had so I went for it and I’m proud to say that the flavorful meatballs in the flavorful simmering soup were absolutely perfect! Oh and really easy to make too.
I don’t know about you but, at home we eat soup all year round. For me a good soup is filling, comforting and the ultimate one-pot meal.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Healthy: This hearty and nutritious soup is made with simple ingredients and is packed with tons of veggies and lean protein. No additives, no fillers, just a good soup and the perfect comfort food meal.
- One-Pot Meal: Mexican Albondigas Soup is a filling meal on its own, especially if you add some toppings.
- Customizable: This delicious recipe can be customized to your taste. Use your favorite vegetables and herbs or the ones you already have at home. Swap the ground beef with ground turkey or ground chicken and use veggies like bell peppers, yellow squash, corn, Mexican squash or chayote.
- Fresh or Frozen Ingredients: To make this albondigas soup recipe you can use fresh or frozen veggies.
The Best Albondigas Recipe for Soup
This soup is one of our favorite Mexican soup recipes.
The perfectly seasoned Mexican style meatballs in this soup are made with ground beef, tons of fresh herbs and uncooked rice. In Mexico, fresh “yerba buena” (a type of mint) is used to flavor the meat mixture. At home in the states, I use fresh mint instead which gives the meatballs that authentic Mexican flavor.
What are Albondigas?
Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs. In this soup recipe the tender and juicy meatballs are made with ground beef and rice and are seasoned to perfection. Although traditionally this dish is made with ground beef meatballs, you can use ground chicken or turkey.
What Is Albondiga Soup Made of?
The soup is packed with veggies like carrots, zucchini, green beans, potatoes, celery and roasted tomatoes all simmered with tender meatballs in an aromatic savory broth.
Albondiga Soup Ingredients
Be sure to check the printable recipe card below for the ingredient’s list and their exact quantities.
To Make The Albondigas (Meatballs)
- Ground Beef: I use lean ground beef. If using higher fat ground beef, you may need to skim the fat from the soup.
- Garlic: I use fresh garlic.
- Rice: I use medium grain or small grain white rice, uncooked.
- Egg: I use a large egg as a binding ingredient.
- Herbs and Spices: Fresh mint, fresh parsley, fresh or dried oregano (I like Mexican oregano), ground cumin, salt and black ground pepper.
To Make The Soup
- Oil: I use olive oil but you can use any mild flavored oil.
- Vegetables and Aromatics: Onions, fresh garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, diced tomatoes (I like canned roasted diced potatoes), green beans.
- Broth: You can use beef or chicken broth. Vegetable broth can also be used.
- Herbs and Seasonings: Ground cumin, oregano (fresh or dried), fresh cilantro, cayenne pepper (optional), salt and pepper and fresh lemon juice.
How to Make Albondigas Soup
This is just a quick review of how to make this soup recipe. Specific instructions can be found In the printable recipe card below.
- Make the Albondigas: Combine the meatball ingredients and shape into 1-inch balls.
- Sauté the Aromatics: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onions until they become translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic.
- Add Some of the Veggies: Stir in the carrots, celery and potatoes.
- Simmer: Add the tomatoes with their juices, the broth, ground cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer.
- Add the Meatballs: Gently drop the meatballs into the soup. Cover the pot and cook on low for 15 minutes.
- Add the Remaining Veggies: Add green beans and zucchini, these veggies are added at this later time because they cook faster than the other veggies.
- Finish Seasoning and Serve: Stir in the lemon juice, chopped cilantro, cayenne pepper (optional), and season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Serve.
How Long Can You Keep Albondigas Soup?
This Mexican Albondigas Soup will last stored in an airtight container, 3-4 days in the refrigerator. The meatballs and veggies may soak up some of the broth so you may need to add additional broth when reheating it.
What Does Albondigas Mean In English?
Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish. Caldo de albondigas or sopa de albondigas simply means meatballs in broth or meatball soup.
Where Did Albondigas Originate From?
Albondigas are eaten in Mexico, Spain and in many Latin American countries. Every country has their own version and every household has the absolute best secret recipe. Meatballs are part of Middle eastern and European cuisine. Some historians believe that meatballs are of Medieval European or even Ancient Roman descent.
Can I Use Store Bought Meatballs?
The Mexican style meatballs in this soup recipe have fresh herbs and spices that give these meatballs their amazing “Spanish” taste. I have not make this soup with store bought meatballs and although I know pre-made meatball can be used, you won’t have that fresh Mexican taste that makes this soup so unique.
How Do You Keep Albondigas From Falling Apart?
When albondigas or meatballs fall apart, it is usually due to a binder issue. Binders are ingredients that keep the meatballs together. Eggs, breadcrumbs, panade, etc. are examples of binders. To prevent meatballs or albondigas from falling apart, you need the right ratio of wet and dry ingredients. I find that too much egg is usually the most common issue for albondigas that fall apart easily or break up.
Another reason that will cause your albondigas to fall apart, is adding them to the soup too fast and/or all at once. When dropping the meatballs into the soup, be gentle and do it slowly. I try to lower them into the hot soup slowly with the help of a kitchen spider/strainer/skimmer or a large cooking/serving spoon. Dropping them all at once from a bowl can break the meat apart and also cause the meatballs to stick together.
Why Are My Albondigas Hard?
Albondigas or meatballs are usually hard for two reasons:
- Over mixing the albondigas or meatball mixture will make the albondigas tough.
- Compacting the meat too much when forming the albondigas, makes a dense and hard meatball.
Why Is my Albondiga Soup So Greasy
Your albondiga soup or meatball soup is most likely greasy because you are making this recipe with regular ground beef with a 20 to 30% fat content. To prevent a greasy soup, using lean ground beef with less than 15% fat, is a must.
Although we usually think that ground beef with higher fat content (20% to 30% fat) equals more flavor, not all recipes benefit from fatty meat. When making albondigas soup, perfectly seasoned meatballs made with lean ground beef are cooked directly in the flavorful hot broth resulting in an incredibly flavorful dish.
Ground meat with a high fat content simply releases its fat into the soup making the broth and veggies extremely greasy. If you encounter this problem, you can skim some of the fat from the soup before serving it.
Making Ahead, Storage and Freezing
- You can prep and assemble the meatballs ahead of time. Place the shaped meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet pan. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. remove the meatballs from the fridge 30 minutes before making the soup.
- Chop all the veggies and keep them in the fridge in sealed containers or resealable plastic bags for 2 days.
- The soup can be made 1 to 2 days ahead of time. Keep in mind that the beef and rice meatballs and the veggies will absorb some of the broth so you may need to add some additional broth when reheating the soup.
- Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The soup can be reheated in a pot on the stove top over medium-low heat. You can reheat small portions of the soup in the microwave until heated through.
- The meatballs can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. To do this, after you have assembled the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet pan in a single layer making sure they don’t touch. Freeze the whole sheet pan for about 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and pack the frozen meatballs in freezer bags or in an airtight container.
- The finished soup can be stored in the freezer but the texture of potatoes changes after thawing. If this doesn’t bother you, the soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Albondigas Recipe Tips
- Customize the vegetables to your taste keeping in mind that some veggies take longer to cook than others.
- To make uniform sized meatballs, use an ice cream scooper or a small cookie scoop. This saves time and guarantees that the meatballs will cook evenly.
- After adding the albondigas to the soup, stir them very gently as raw meatballs tends to break apart easily.
- Rolling meatballs is much easier if you have wet your hands first.
- You can make the meatballs with ground turkey, ground chicken or lean ground pork.
Take a look at these other delicious and easy soup recipes:
- Black Bean Soup
- Tom Yum Soup
- Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Sweet Potato Soup
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For Albondigas Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced (about ½-inch thick)
- 3 celery ribs sliced (about ½-inch thick)
- 1 large Russet potato peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (or 2 medium red potatoes)
- 1 15-ounces can roasted diced tomatoes or plain diced tomatoes
- 6 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped
- 6 ounces green beans ends removed cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini cut in half lengthwise and sliced (about ½-inch thick)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Shape into 1-inch balls. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, until ready to add to the soup. You should get approximately 25 – 28 meatballs.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook stirring constantly, for about a minute.
- Stir in the carrots, celery and potatoes and sauté, stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices, the broth, ground cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Gently and slowly, drop the meatballs into the soup. Give it a gentle stir (be gentle, you don’t want to break up the meatballs). Cover the pot and cook on low for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the green beans and zucchini and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender but firm.
- Stir in the lemon juice, chopped cilantro, cayenne pepper (optional), and season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Serve.
- Customize the vegetables to your taste keeping in mind that some veggies take longer to cook than others.
- To make uniform sized meatballs, use an ice cream scooper. This saves time and guarantees that the meatballs will cook evenly.
- Rolling meatballs is much easier if you wet your hands first.
- After adding the albondigas to the soup, stir them very gently as raw meatballs can break apart.
- You can make the meatballs with ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork.
- Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days