Though this incredibly delicious, multi-faceted soup stems from Mexico, it’s been said that the actual name albondigas has Middle Eastern roots.
The word “al” in Arabic translates to “the” in English, and “el” in Spanish. The name for the soup is likely some variation of “al-bunduq” which means “hazelnut” and could be meant to represent “meatball” due to the meatball’s approximate size being that of the shape of a hazelnut. Sound too assuming?
Regardless of its true origin, in our house, Albóndigas soup has always been known as a traditional Mexican soup featuring spicy meatballs balanced by the fresh flavors of sweet, astringent vegetables and pungent herbs and, I promise you, tastes nothing like a hazelnut 🙂
Makes 4 Hearty 2 cup servings
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup short-grain rice
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cups chopped onion, divided
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 pound lean ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup chopped seeded peeled tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 cups chopped zucchini
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pour boiling water over rice; let stand 20 minutes. Drain.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
- Combine rice, cooked onion, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cilantro, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, pork, ground beef and eggs, mixing well.
- Shape into 30- 1″ meatballs. Chill for 20 minutes.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add 10 meatballs, and cook 6-7 minutes, browning on all sides.
- Remove meatballs from pan; drain on paper towels.
- Continue until all meatballs are browned
- Return pan to heat; add remaining olive oil and remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, carrots, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add tomatoes and stir to combine.
- Stir in broth; bring mixture to a boil.
- Add meatballs and mint.
- Reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes.
- Add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer another 10 minutes.
- Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro & serve