Caldo de Albóndigas is a traditional Mexican meatball soup, served in a light and healthy broth full of vegetables.
What is an albondiga?
Albondigas (al·buhn·dee·guhz), doesn’t it sound majestic? Albondigas originated in Spain and means a spicy tomato meatball soup. In my book albondiga soup is the ultimate comfort food.
I love soup and this one has a special memory attached to it. The unique balance of fresh herbs, tomato broth, and unique spices gives this recipe its delicate flavor.
What are safflower petals?
Azafran (the Spanish word for Saffron) is the stamen of the safflower while saffron is the stamen of the crocus. A thistle-like herb with an orange-red color, it gives food an orange tinge.
When my grandmother made this soup I remember staring at the vibrant red specks of the safflower in the broth and wondered what they were.
What to serve with albondigas soup
We had a lot of soup growing up and my grandmother and mother always made sure it was kid friendly. Beautiful bowls of salsa casera always graced the table and adults took the liberty of adding spice to their individual bowl of albondiga soup. This soup is hearty enough to stand as a complete meal, but I often serve it with corn tortillas.
My fondest memory is my grandma rolling out miniature and perfectly sized meatballs. I always wondered how she managed to make every meatball the exact same size.
When I make this soup I am flooded with memories of being in my grandmother’s kitchen and being that little kid again.
TIPS FOR MAKING ALBONDIGAS
The essence of the spice in this soup comes from an exotic trio of fresh cilantro, crushed coriander, and whole safflower petals.
What you will need:
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Baking Sheet
- Blender or Food Processor
- Large Pot
- Medium Skillet
- Mortar and Pestle
Watch this video below to see how my family makes Caldo de Albondigas.
Like this Mexican soup recipe? You may also like these!
- Veracruz-Style Cod
- Caldo de Pescado y Camaron (Fish and Shrimp Soup)
- Chicken Pozole Verde
- Caldo de Res (Beef Soup)
- Red Pork and Hominy Stew (Pozole Rojo)
- Caldo de Pollo
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
Caldo de Albóndigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)
- 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
- 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 warn corn tortillas. If you would like your soup spicy add a spoonful of your favorite homemade salsa.
- The essence of the spice in this soup comes from an exotic trio of fresh cilantro, crushed coriander, and whole safflower petals. Make sure to use all of them.
Originally published: February 2011. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.
Photography by Jeanine Thurston
This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.