Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Albondigas Mexican Soup

As I mentioned in this post, J and I spent Saturday morning watching Food Network.  Some of our favorite Food Network shows are in the line-up on Saturday mornings, including Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Mexican Made Easy, Barefoot Contessa, and so forth.  We usually find inspiration for the week's menu from these shows and this week was no exception.  We watched as Marcela Valladolid made Albondigas Soup and decided to replicate her efforts last night.  The meal turned out great and is similar to a minestrone or Italian wedding soup, but with Mexican flavors.
Albondigas Mexican Soup, modified from Marcela Valladolid's recipe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 pound ground sirloin--we used ground round because we bought organic and it was a lot cheaper than the organic ground sirloin.  Since the meat would be combined with onions, cilantro, and rice and then boiled in the soup, it's okay if you use a cheaper (or leaner) ground meat.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 carrot, cut into rounds
1 serrano chile, whole
1 Yukon gold potato, cubed with skin on
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large zucchini, cut into half moons
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips

Kitchen Supplies:
Large stock pot
Mixing bowl

In the bottom of your stock pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for five minutes, until mostly translucent--do not brown as they are going to cook longer in the meatballs once you add them to the soup.  Remove onions and let cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, mix together onions, rice, cilantro, ground meat, salt and pepper.  Using wet hands, shape the meat mixture into approximately twenty 1-inch balls.

Combine carrots, chile, potato, tomato paste and vegetable stock in stock pot.  Bring to a boil then slide in the albondigas (meatballs) and zucchini into the pot.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for twenty minutes or until the meat is cooked through.  During the last five minutes of cooking time, add corn tortilla strips for added texture and flavor.   Serve.

Warning: you can eat the serrano pepper but it is very spicy so proceed with caution.  It gave J hiccups almost immediately and he loves spicy food!

Serves: 6 to 8 people

J and I had an interesting conversation about albondigas while we ate dinner last night. He suspected, and was later proved right with a little searching online, that albondiga was an Arabic word that became part of the Spanish language as many words that start with al- are. Many Arabic words entered the Spanish language when the Iberian penisula (modern day Spain) was conquered by Muslim Moors from North Africa in the 8th century.

This is a little off topic but since we are discussing Arabic based Spanish words, I thought I would share my favorite one with you: ojal√° which means "hopefully" or more literally "May God (Allah in the original meaning) will it."

What's your favorite word in a foreign language, Spanish or otherwise?


  1. Very interesting recipe! Thanks for posting.

  2. this looks so good...and i'm a vegetarian! however matthew and i run a split kitchen...so I do believe he would love love love these :)


  3. That soup recipe looks interesting! I love the Food Network, but sadly didn't subscribe to cable once I moved out to California this past fall - still love browsing their website for inspiration though!

  4. @ Every Little Thing: It was definitely interesting! Apparently traditional albondigas are served in a sauce, not a soup, and can be made with any ground meat or fish!

    @ lindsey: Thanks! We try to eat meat-free at least once a week ourselves! Stay tuned for a Smoked Gouda-Chipotle Mac and Cheese later this week. I think both you and Matthew would enjoy it :)

  5. This looks so good! I'm always looking for great soup recipes this time of year. I'll have to give this a try.


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