Albondigas Soup

I have to confess that I’ve been struggling for the past few days trying to figure out exactly how to convey this soup's deliciousness to you.  I’ve started 3 different posts (this is the 4th) and discarded them all.  I might just toss this one out too.  The problem is that I’m feeling more than a little pressure to be creative and engaging and well....

It’s not happening.

The thing is that this soup is a little more deserving than just a routine thumbs up, you know?  I think it’s actually pretty special.

Before I say more, I have to give a big shout-out to cousin Katie who should get most of the credit for this scrumptious all-bone-dee-gaws soup...Katie says you must hear Antonio Banderas when you say it :).  When she emailed to say she was making albondigas soup, I was instantly excited and did a big forehead slap.  How could I have forgotten about albondigas soup?  I haven’t had it in years, but I absolutely love it. Thank you, Katie, for not only inspiring me, but for mentioning that I must put mint in the meatballs.

That little tidbit of information was invaluable as I researched recipes and found that the most authentic did indeed include the traditional mint.  Many of them also included rice, but when I found this one that used masa flour as a binder in the meatballs, I knew I’d found THE ONE.

I have to say my instincts were pretty right on.  Because not only did these meatballs rock, but the soup broth was incredible!  I was stunned by the flavors that developed from so few ingredients. 

So that’s what I came up with, you guys!  I hope I’ve done this soup justice.  Probably not, but I’m hoping you’ll try it anyway.  It’s astonishingly good.  Here’s the recipe…

Albondigas Soup

Click here for a printable version

Adapted from “Mexican Family Cooking” by Aida Gabilondo

I made a few minor changes from the original recipe.   I used ground turkey (not turkey breast) for the meatballs and they were wonderful.  The original recipe calls for ground beef, so of course, use that if you prefer.  This recipe called for mint, but added it to the broth; I like it in the meatballs, which is very traditional.

Serves 8

For the meatballs:

2 lbs ground meat (I used ground turkey)
1 egg
½ cup masa harina mixed with 4 tablespoons of warm water
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the soup:

1 ½ quarts of chicken stock
2 green onions cut into ½-inch pieces
(1) 4-ounce can diced mild green chiles
1 cup ripe unpeeled chopped tomatoes
¼ cup tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely mashed
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the meatball ingredients together, and knead once or twice to the consistency of soft dough.  Make meatballs the size of a ping-pong ball and place them on a cookie sheet.  Set aside

In a large pot, add the chicken stock, the green onions, chiles, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, and garlic.  Boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Add the cilantro.

While the broth is still simmering, drop in the meat balls and poach for 30 minutes over low heat, covered.

Serve in soup bowls or soup plates with about a cupful of broth.  These meatballs can be cooked in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to reheat, and they freeze well.

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