07 October 2011

Albondigas Soup - Sopa de Albondigas

Albondigas soup has been on my mind for a while and I just had to make some. The albondigas (meatballs) traditionally have rice in them, which reminded me of my funny little self when I was in elementary school. Though I was only seven years old, I very clearly remember my horror the day the school lunch menus for the week were passed out and I saw that the next day's main dish was to be something I couldn't begin to wrap my mind around.

I worried about it for the rest of the day, then went rushing in the door after school, eager to tell my mother the horrifying news. I started out by simply announcing that I had to take my lunch the next day. She tried valiantly to keep a straight face as I stood there wide-eyed and grim-faced and solemnly delivered the reason, "They are ... having ... (dramatic pause, sharp intake of breath) por ... cu ... pine ... meatballs!"

She tried, but there was nothing she could say to convince me that porcupine meatballs were just ground beef with rice and that no quilled rodents would be harmed in the course of lunch preparations. So how is it that porcupine meatballs have always been such a "kid-pleaser" kind of dish? Was I the only child who suspected the worst?

Which reminds me ... If you are dealing with a picky eater, you need to read these 10 Tips for Dining (or Not) With Picky Eaters, something I just happened to come across the other day and thought was the best thing I've ever read on dealing with that problem! I think Melanie Rehak is a genius on the subject!

But back to the soup ... A bowl of this with a side of Mexican rice and a couple of warm tortillas makes a hearty meal. Are you gearing up for Soup Weather? I hope you'll try this one. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.

Albondigas Soup - Sopa de Albondigas

(Makes 4 main-dish servings)

The Albondigas (meatballs, makes 20)

1 pound very lean ground beef (Rocky Mountain Organic Meats)
1 large egg
1/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice (Lundberg organic long grain)
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 8-ounce can tomato sauce (Muir Glen organic)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

The Caldo (broth)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 6-ounce Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 In medium bowl, combine all albondigas ingredients except olive oil. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour to make mixture easier to handle.

2 In 5-quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Over medium heat, cook onion and bell pepper for about 8 minutes. Add chicken broth and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes (or as long as it takes to shape meatballs).

3 Roll #40 scoops of meatball mixture with both hands to form meatballs. (First I scoop all of the meatball mixture and then roll all the meatballs.) 

4 Let broth continue to simmer. In 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown the meatballs in two batches, rolling them around, browning on all sides. Add meatballs to broth. Simmer for 10 minutes (or as long as it takes to slice the carrots and celery).

5 Deglaze the skillet with the 2 cups of water; add to soup. Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper, marjoram and crushed red pepper to soup. Simmer for 10 minutes.

6 Add zucchini, potato and cilantro. Simmer 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish (if you're not in a hurry to eat, as I was!) with avocado, cilantro and/or a wedge of lime. Maybe fry up some crispy little strips of corn tortilla.  


Cranberry Morning said...

I have to tell you, Jean, that Albondigas soup has never been on my mind, but that's because I've never even seen the word before. Thanks for introducing me to something new. Looks delicious!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy. Wow! I never even thought that somebody might not have ever heard of albondigas soup, but now that you mention it, it's probably not on many menus in Wisconsin. You'll have to start the trend, I guess! This might be something new for a lot of people.

Richard Sheppard said...

Gosh Jean, that sure looks good! No Doubt I'm going to make this one soon. Perfect for the cooler autumn weather.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Richard! I wish I'd made a double batch, I'd have a bowl right now!

Ali said...

Hi Jean, the soup looks really delicious. I'll definitely make it, can i add chilli to mine? Love the photo :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ali, thanks. Yes, I just add a little heat with some crushed red pepper flakes, but you can add more of it or any other chile that you like.

Charles said...

Ha, you make it seem like it's common?! I've never heard of it either although it seems quite similar to something someone in my family makes (but I have no idea who it was and when I had it - how annoying to forget that!) - oh well, I do remember that I liked it a lot though so it's nice to have the recipe available to me now :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Well, I come from English stock, so it's not something my family made. But Mexican restaurants are very common in many parts of the US, and I have friends of Mexican descent, so Mexican food seems quite everyday to me. I hope you'll like my recipe, Charles!

Mrs. Tuna said...

My mom used to make porcupine meatballs all the time when I was a kid. I'm trying to remember what kind of sauce/broth she used. I'll have to check with my sister.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Mrs. Tuna, can't help you there - my only exposure to porcupine meatballs was that school year, and I studiously avoided even looking at them every time they were served!

Grant said...

Wow, that soup looks mighty fine!!! Now over here in Aussie land, we don't got no porcupine meatballs or albondigas or anything of the kind. I wonder how this would go made with kangaroo mince? Might put some extra bounce into it lol.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Grant! Well, one of the meatballs did land on the floor but it didn't bounce at all. Rest assured, I bounced it right into the trash can.

Sully said...

"Well, ain't I late to the table. Hope you saved some porcupine meatballs for moi.

Love your personable style, Jeani. The anecdotes are as good as any conceivable sauce or condiment. Recipes are practically a diary or a family history, when you think about it. And you have much to share on both fronts..."


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, thank you. As I often say, my best childhood memories are food-related.

Unknown said...

Oh how I adore Albondigas soup! I've even made it once or twice myself - although yours looks so much better than mine every did!!!

LOL.. love the story, Jean!! Funny how as children we just get something in our heads and there is no telling us differently!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Jenn! I expect I'll be making it again next month. I love soup weather!

Pegi said...

No matter where I am in life, albondigas makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside! This recipe looks exactly right, Jean, giving me a large happy sigh! And it feels like a hug from you! : ) I like the smaller size in the papas (potatoes) and not adding more rice, as some do. The wind has begun to get colder, and this would be welcome on the table when my sweetie comes home from work.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Pegi, thank you! Yes, this is just the thing to have on a cold, windy day. I think the soup looks much prettier without the rice in the broth. Call me shallow, but that's why I leave it out!

ChicagoCouponMama said...

As an Mexican American this is my favorite soup next to posole. Your recipe sounds delish. Your comment of the porqie pine had me rolling! Love it!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks! And I'll definitely give posole a try (if it can be made without hominy - I am not a fan of hominy).

Anonymous said...

Porcupine Balls go back a long way in my family -- but I have a question. Would it be alright to form & brown the Balls, then refrigerate overnight & cook in my tomato sauce the next day -- or would this prohibit the rice from cooking properly? (We serve the P.B.in a sauce over mashed potatoes.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Nita, if you want to make the meatballs the day before you put them in the sauce and serve them, you would need to cook the meatballs thoroughly (put a lid on the pan after browning). Any time you only partially cook ground beef, dangerous levels of bacteria could develop. Or make the sauce the day before also and just reheat the fully cooked meatballs in sauce the next day.

Tracey said...

I just made this. My friend's mom used to make this soup for us when I was in Highschool but I hadn't been able to find a recipe as good as her's since. Well, this was better! Thanks so much for sharing!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tracey, thank you so much! I' glad you liked it! I hope you'll try more of my recipes. And do let me know how you liked them.

sswhimsy@hotmail.com said...

I made this soup just last week and my husband, daughter and I think it is wonderfully delicious! Thanks for the blog..

Anonymous said...

Usually we go to a local restaurant for albondigas soup but they only have it on Fridays. I wanted it on a Monday so I looked and found your wonderful recipe. We all loved it. Thanks for your blog.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you so much! I love it when people get good results with my recipes! Now you should try my Mexican Rice.

Anonymous said...

just out of curiosity can this be made with ground turkey instead? by the way it looks amazing so excited to try this!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, definitely! I use ground turkey for this and lots of things. Works well.

Anonymous said...

Instead of cilantro in the meat balls I put fresh mint leaves it gives it a nice flavor. Albondigas soup is soo delicious everyone should try it I assure you will love it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Mmm ... mint! My husband isn't a fan, but I'm sure I'd like it. Must try soon.

Chris said...

Ablondigas is on my bucket list. This looks fabulous and makes me want to cook up a batch with this rainy weather today. YUM! Thanks for linking up with us at #FoodieFridays!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Christie, thank you so much! Do let me know how it turns out for you.

Michelle said...

Yum! I absolutely love soup and this looks so good! So glad to have you at Foodie Fridays! I already made my soup for dinner tonight, but today is a perfect soup day (wet and dreary) but I'll be doing plenty more this fall so I will put this one in the lineup! Hope to see you again this week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Michelle! Hope you like it. I plan to start making lots of soups, too, very soon.

Anonymous said...

I made pozole earlier this week; can I use the broth in this recipe? Living in Tucson have only seen it in a light stock.

Anonymous said...

Hello: I made posole earlier this week and have lots of broth left. Can the broth be used in this recipe?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Denise, I love using what I have on hand, so I'd definitely give it a try. Even if it means a dish might not be authentic, it doesn't mean it won't be good! Do let me know how it turns out for you.