My husband and sons love meatballs. When meals involving meatballs are served we have an instant debate over meatball allocation. Just how many meatballs can they each have? As a result of my ongoing need to engage in meatball appeasement, you’ll find that this soup is quite heavy on meatballs. That’s how my family likes it. If your family isn’t quite so meatball obsessed you can cut down the meatball recipe. I leave that up to you. I should mention that my father makes albondigas soup too – though slightly differently than I do. He promises me he’ll give me the recipe soon. When he made it for us recently my older son told me that my father’s albondigas meatballs were better than my albondigas meatballs. I know this sort of thing happens in your house all the time. Sigh. Just for the record my husband, bless him, told me that MY albondigas meatballs are his favorite. You can try both recipes and decide for yourself. Here’s mine.
Albondigas Soup (10 servings)
- 12-oz fresh pico de gallo salsa
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, packed (including the stems)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 lb lean organic ground beef
- 1 lb ground turkey (I use white meat, but dark meat will work too)
- 1 ½ lbs sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups onion, finely diced
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 leek, well cleaned, finely diced, white parts only
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 bell pepper (red, yellow or orange – NOT green) chopped into small cubes
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 4 whole carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 cups fresh sweet corn (frozen corn will do just as well)
- 1 14.5-oz can chopped tomatoes including their juice
- Two 32-oz boxes chicken or vegetable broth
Place the pico de gallo, cilantro, salt, and ½ teaspoon cumin in a blender. Process until smooth. Set aside ½ cup for the meatballs. Save the remainder for the soup. Place the three kinds of meat in a medium bowl. Don’t blend just yet. It’s too hard to blend the meat if it is cold. Leave it in the bowl and turn your attention to the soup. We’ll come back to the meatballs in a bit.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, shallot, leak and red pepper flakes. Sauté over medium heat for six minutes. Add the cumin, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Sauté for six minutes. Add the brown rice, corn, chopped tomatoes, chicken broth and the pureed pico de gallo (everything that was left after you set aside the half cup for the meatballs). Bring to a simmer.
Leave the soup simmering and return your attention to the meatballs. Add the brown rice, beaten eggs and ½ cup of salsa puree to the meat. Blend well. I find it is almost impossible to do this with a spoon or fork, you really need to do it with your hands. Make sure it is WELL blended with no lumps of any of the meat left in the mixture.
Take your meatball mix over to the stove. Wet your hands with water. Reach into the bowl and scoop out enough meat to form a 1-inch ball. Gently drop the ball into the simmering soup. Repeat until all of the meat has been made into balls and dropped into the soup. You’ll find that you need to rinse your hands with water and re-wet them a number of times, otherwise the meat with stick to your hands and it will be a challenge to form a ball. Once you have all of the meat in the soup GENTLY stir the soup. Working efficiently it took me 15 minutes to form all of the balls. Leave the soup on simmer for 30 more minutes. Using a large flat spoon, skim the fat and bubbles off of the top of the soup. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Depending on how salty the pico de gallo was, you may decide you need more salt. Mine didn’t need any additional salt. Serve immediately or cool and freeze. This soup is terrific the next day.