Albondigas which means “small meatballs” is exactly that. Small meatballs made from a mixture of ground Pork and Beef seasoned with copious amounts of Garlic, Cumino and Oregano. Many restaurants will mix rice into the meat mixture which stretches the meat and adds texture but I am a purist (as well as not being a huge fan of rice) and I do not use it. Add some richly appointed beef broth and chunky veggies and you have a deliciously mouthwatering savory bowl of soul warming goodness!
I was introduced to this delicious soup for the first time in Las Vegas, where I was born and raised. (No, I never was a hoochie dancer!) (why does everyone ask me that? well…. men ask me that, when they hear where I am from, anyway….) Back to the soup……It was at Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant. My friend and I, barely legal, used to go there every Friday night after a long work week to spend what was left of our all ready too tight budgets after rent, gas and insurance on Midori Margaritas, Albondigas Soup and sometimes we would split a Fried Ice Cream. The rest of the week it was bologna, but it was well worth it! We really looked foreward to Friday nights!
Fast foreward some 15 years or so and I am living in Texas with my husband. I can now afford anything I want on the menu but I am craving my old friend “Albondigas”. Problem is that which ever Mexican Restaurants we go to, there is no such soup on the menu. We soon come to realize that, much like many countries cuisines, Mexican food is regional. The Mexican food in Texas is nothing like the Mexican fare I grew up on. It’s all authentic but some is Central Mexico cuisine and others Southern or Northern. Believe me, It is all great but you like what you are accustomed to.
That is how this recipe came about. We wanted Albondigas Soup. Scouring recipes online, there were many different styles of Albondigas. We tried the ones that looked good but none were exactly like we remembered so in our fashion, as we do with most recipe’s, we took several and combined the elements we liked the most and tweaked them, taking notes each time, till we had the one that was Just right!
- FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 1 Lb Ground Beef
- ½ Lb. Ground Pork
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. Milk (you can omit this, It's more for texture than flavor)
- 1 Onion minced1 Egg Beaten (you may need two.)
- ½ Cup Garlic and Herb seasoned Breadcrumbs ( I use progresso pre-seasoned)
- 2 tsp. Ground Oregano
- 2 tsp. Ground Basil
- 1 Tbsp. Cumino
- ½ tsp each of salt and pepper ( I use more salt than that but It's a personal call)
- FOR THE BROTH
- 8 Cups of Chicken Broth
- 1 Can 14.5 oz. Diced Tomatoes with juice
- 2 tsp each Oregano, Sweet Basil & Cumin
- ¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro
- 2 tsp Tabasco (more to taste)
- 3 to 5 carrots chopped bite size (large slices like for stew
- 2 Poblano Peppers chopped bite size
- 1 onion chopped bite size
- 4-5 stalks Celery chopped bite size
- Salt Pepper
- In a large bowl combine the Ground Beef and Pork thoroughly adding the Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Basil, Oregano, minced Garlic and minced Onion a bit at a time as you mix the meat to incorporate thoroughly.
- Add the Egg and some of the Bread Crumbs incorporating them through the meat. Add Bread Crumbs till the consistency of the meatballs is just moist and will roll into a meatball nicely and hold together. You may not need to use all the Bread Crumbs.
- Roll the meat mixture in to about 1½ " balls being as consistent in size as you can. set aside. You should have about 26 meatballs...give or take.
- In a large Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons Olive Oil. Add the large chopped vegetables...Onion, Celery, Carrot, Poblano. Get a good sear on them.
- Add the last 2 Garlic cloves, smashed whole, to the pot.
- Pour in the broth and add the cumin, oregano and basil. Bring to slow boil.
- Gently drop your meatballs in the boiling broth one by one till all are submerged. You can stir this gently to make room for them all if necessary.
- Cover Pot and simmer for 1 - 1½ Hours. Adjust the salt if necessary. Feel free to add more water/bullion as necessary to keep meatballs well covered.
- Ladle 4 meatballs and some veggies and broth into a bowl and top with Cilantro and Tortilla Strips as well.