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Jan 4, 2021

Hot and healthy, this traditional Mexican soup is perfect for winter sniffles.

What’s more comforting than a bowl of soup when you’re feeling under the weather? Science backs it up—hearty soups, with broth, meat and vegetables are good for colds as it helps relieve stuffy noses and have a healing anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

One of the most perfect options is albondigas or meatball soup. It’s a blend of chicken broth, celery, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, and cilantro leaves paired with juicy meatballs made from turkey, chicken, chorizo, or beef.

Albondigas is considered Mexican soul food, but its origins trace back to Spain and its Middle Eastern influences in the 7th century. The dish traveled to the Americas with the Spanish conquistadors and evolved as it landed in different regions, which included adding ingredients like mint or oregano.

How to Make Albondigas Soup

This albondigas soup recipe from food blogger Yvette Marquez-Sharpnak’s blog Muy Bueno was passed down from her Mexican grandmother, and calls for dried safflower petals, a specialty ingredient; if you can’t find them, you can substitute a pinch of saffron.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina
  • 1 cup onions, diced and divided
  • ¼ cup long-grain rice, divided
  • 7 cups water
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large tomatoes, roasted and blended
  • 2 small russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon whole safflower

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef with garlic powder, salt, crushed peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of onions, masa harina, and 1/8 cup of rice. Mix all ingredients together and roll out about 36-40 1-inch meatballs.

Arrange three tomatoes on a baking sheet. Place your oven rack as close to the broiler as possible. Broil the tomatoes for about 20 minutes until softened, turning over after 10 minutes. If the skin has blackened remove it.

In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes until smooth. Set aside.

In a large pot boil water, chicken broth, and minced garlic. Lower heat to medium and carefully add meatballs to the liquid. Cook meatballs for about 10-15 minutes or until the meatballs float to the surface and lower heat to simmer.

In a medium skillet sauté the remaining onions and diced roma tomatoes in olive oil.

To the pot of broth add the sautéed onions, tomatoes, fresh tomato sauce, remaining rice, potatoes, carrots, celery, coriander, cilantro, and safflower.

Cook over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes. Ladle soup with about 5 albondigas per bowl. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, lime wedges, and serve with warm corn tortillas. If you would like your soup spicy add a spoonful of your favorite homemade salsa.