Make this hearty albondigas soup for your Spanish-inspired dinner. If you are looking for a soup that is cozy and comforting, this hits the spot and takes less than 30 minutes.
When the temperature takes a downturn, soups and stews become a weekly staple.
Our family has a few favorites up our sleeve, including a potato soup, broccoli cheese soup and a classic chicken soup. When we feel like something a little more cozy, we throw some albondigas into the mix.
What is albondigas soup?
Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs. Thus, albondigas soup is a meatball soup.
It is widely eaten in Spain and Mexico and features beef and rice meatballs in a tomato-based broth. It also contains various spices, vegetables, and herbs.
While a popular dish at Tapas bars and Spanish restaurants, it’s actually a super simple dish to make at home and perfect for a cold winter night.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s healthy. When made with low-fat beef, albondigas is one of the healthiest soups you can make. You can adjust the recipe to make it fit your diet better, e.g. use brown rice instead of white rice, use zucchini instead of potatoes, etc.
- It’s a one-pot meal. You only need one large pot to make everything.
- Takes less than 30 minutes to make. These may look as if it takes a lot of time to prepare and cook. But with all the prep work needed for this dish, the soup pot takes care of all the hard work.
What we love about this recipe is that you can easily adjust it to suit your preferences. We sometimes make the meatballs on their own (especially as a fun filling for meatball subs) or make a double batch and freeze one of them.
For such a fancy looking dish, you’ll love the basic ingredient list. Everything can be found at any grocery store or supermarket. Here is what you’ll need:
- Ground beef. I prefer using only beef for my meatballs, but you can use a mixture of beef and pork.
- Rice. Use white long-grain al dente cooked rice.
- Garlic. I add two cloves of garlic to the meatball mixture. You can add more or less depending on how much garlic you love in your food.
- Herbs. I use parsley and mint for this recipe. While the authentic albondigas recipe does contain mint, you can skip it if you don’t like it. Using dried mint is an option too.
- Egg. This is the binding agent for the meatballs.
- Paprika. A must for that lovely smoky flavor.
- Broth. Both homemade and store-bought beef broth will work.
- Onion. Sautéed onions deepen the flavor of the broth.
- Olive oil. You need a tablespoon of olive oil or any other neutral cooking oil to sauté the onions.
- Tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes make the broth for albondigas soup more flavorful and give it an appetizing red color.
- Carrots, potatoes, and peas. This is the vegetable combination I prefer using for my albondigas soup.
How to make albondigas soup
You can’t go wrong with albondigas soup recipe if you prepare the meatballs properly and add all ingredients into the soup pot in the right order. Here’s how to make the most delicious soup.
Step 1- Prepare the meat mixture
In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef with rice, minced garlic, chopped parsley and mint, and paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Crack an egg into the meat mixture and mix until fully combined.
Step 2- Form the meatballs
Portion out uniform meatballs using an ice cream scoop. Wet your hands if the meat is sticking to them and perfect the shape of the meatballs.
Step 3- Make the soup
Heat oil in a soup pot. Add diced onions into the pot and cook until softened.
Add crushed tomatoes to the sauteed onions and mix. Pour the beef broth into the soup pot and bring it to a boil.
Add cubed potatoes and carrots into the broth followed by the green peas. Let the soup cook for around 8 minutes.
Step 4- Drop the meatballs and boil until cooked
Carefully drop the meatballs into the boiling soup and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Ladle a generous amount of meatballs into each bowl. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve with lime wedges.
Tips to make the best recipe
- If you are allergic to eggs or don’t have them at home at the moment, use an egg substitute instead.
- Don’t skip the herbs. If you don’t have fresh herbs, it is better to use dried herbs instead rather than skip them altogether.
- Don’t cut the potatoes too big. Large chunks of potatoes may take longer to cook than the meatballs.
- Add rice not only into the meat mixture but also to the broth to make this soup heartier.
- To store. Once albondigas cool, transfer them into an airtight container and store the soup in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To freeze. You can freeze albondigas soup for up to 6 months. I recommend removing the potatoes from the soup before freezing it. The potatoes may become grainy and mushy when you thaw the soup.
- To reheat. Reheat albondigas soup on the stovetop on medium-low heat or in the microwave at 30-second intervals.
Frequently asked questions
Albondigas is popular both in Spain and Mexico. While this soup is referred to as ‘Mexican soul food’, it actually has a Spanish origin.
These originated in Spain in the 6th century under the influence of Islamic culture. The dish then traveled from Spain to Mexico and other countries of Latin America.
These meatballs may turn out tough even if you are using the right meat. They may turn out hard if you have over-mixed the dough mixture or if you have packed them too tightly.
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Albondigas | Spanish Meatball Soup
For the meatballs
- 1 1/4 lbs ground beef
- 1/4 cup cooked rice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon mint leaves chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 large egg beaten
For the soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 1/4 cups beef broth
- 1 lb canned tomatoes crushed
- 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 3 small potatoes chopped
- 3/4 cup peas fresh or frozen
- Combine ground beef, rice, garlic, parsley, mint, paprika, salt and pepper. Add beaten egg and stir by hand until just combined.
- Form balls from the mixture and place on a plate.
- Heat oil in a pot and add onions. Cook until softened. Add crushed tomatoes and soup into the pot and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and cook for 8 more minutes.
- Carefully drop meatballs into the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve with lime wedges.
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