Sopa de Albondigas (Meatball Soup)

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My dad's recipe, from a Mexican co-worker. I omit the celery all the time, just 'cause I don't have it. I've never found another recipe that uses tomatillos, but they both thicken the soup and add a great flavor. If you wish, you can blanch or roast the tomatillos, remove the skins, and mash instead of chopping, but it's so much easier just to chop. Measurements are approximate; I just judge by eye and throw stuff in. Use more or less water and broth depending on how thin you like it; if you don't use home-made broth, it will be saltier and not as fresh-tasting, but that's totally up to you. Cilantro is also known in some parts of the world as "fresh coriander". Killer with home-made tortillas.


  • 3 Tbsp. oil (or enough to scantily cover the bottom of your pan)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds (cominos)
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups homemade vegetable or chicken broth (or equivalent amount of canned, but go for low-sodium)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can peeled, diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 5-7 tomatillos (depending on size), "papers" removed, washed well, diced (or roasted/blanched, peeled, and mashed)
  • 3-4 cups water (depending on how much stock you used and how thin you like your soup)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped (throw away the very ends with no leaves)
  • 1/3 cup white rice or brown rice
  • 2-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (depending on size)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or 1/2 lb. beef, 1/2 lb. pork)
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I use Progresso)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 egg


  1. In a dutch oven or other soup pot with tight-fitting lid, saute onion, garlic, celery, and cumin seed in hot oil until onions begin to look clear.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes (with juice), water, tomatillos, and cilantro.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and add carrots and rice.
  6. Make meatballs: Begin by mixing breadcrumbs, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder.
  7. Knead in ground beef until thoroughly mixed.
  8. Add egg and knead in. (If needed, add additional breadcrumbs; texture at this point should be slightly firmer than ground beef with nothing added.)
  9. Form into small (about 1/2-inch) meatballs.
  10. Bring broth back to a boil.
  11. Add meatballs to hot broth.
  12. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.

This recipe was submitted by ketchupqueen on January 25, 2005.

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