Monday, March 11, 2013

Albondigas soup

Debbie and I are spending quality time with her family in Ocean Shores, Washington, this week. The whole clan (my in-laws and Debbie's sister and husband) had settled into our rooms by Saturday evening. One of Debbie's brothers will join us tomorrow.

We discussed meals for the week Sunday afternoon. A trip to the supermarket after worship last night confirmed the menu. Since preparing albondigas soup last week at work, I wanted a second chance to perfect my recipe. My brother-in-law and I prepared the soup this evening.

The main cooks for the week are my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and myself. We each selected dinner entrees that appeal to the family and we enjoy cooking. The remaining dinners will consist of spaghetti with Italian sausage, fish tacos (we are on the coast) and cheesy potato soup. We may sneak in yeasted pancakes in for breakfast on morning one morning.

The family enjoyed the Mexican meatball soup this evening. With warm flour tortillas to sop up the broth, each person added in their favorite garnishes. Finely shredded green cabbage and thinly sliced radishes, along with chopped green onions and fresh cilantro leaves, let each person tailor the soup to his or her taste. A squeeze or two of lime brightened the soup.

This recipe is a keeper. The combination of caramelized onion and carrot with the roasted red pepper boosted the flavor of the packaged chicken broth. (Certainly use fresh stock when it's available.) The soup contained the essentials of a basic aldondigas soup. Meatballs with rice and a rich chicken broth with vegetables rounded out the soup. This one is going in my recipe file for work.


Albondigas soup easily adapts to suit your taste. You don't need to restrict the vegetables to carrots, potatoes and green beans. Use any combination of vegetables that you desire. Zucchini, chayote, fresh corn on the cob or greens are all acceptable choices. Be mindful that space in the soup pot limits your choice of vegetables to three or four. Fresh or dried chile peppers will give the soup a spicy note.

I like to brown the meatballs in a heavy skillet before adding them to the soup. The resulting crust adds texture and flavor to the meatballs and soup.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large eggs
3/4 cup long grain rice
1/2 onion, diced small
1 jalapeno chile pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 carrot, diced small
3 roasted red peppers, diced small
2 quarts chicken broth
3 potatoes, diced small
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut to size
Zest of 1 lime

To prepare the meatballs, mix the beef, pork, eggs, rice, chile pepper, garlic, cilantro and seasonings. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs. This should give you 25 to 30 meatballs. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot. Add the onion and carrot. Slowly caramelize until the vegetables are light brown, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes.

Add the red peppers and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Place the meatballs, potatoes and green beans in the broth. Cook until the rice in the meatballs is done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lime zest. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 quarts. To serve, set 2 or 3 meat balls in a bowl. Ladle the soup with over the meatballs. This recipe will serve a gathering of 6 to 8 persons as the main course. Or it will serve 15 as a soup coarse.

Provide shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion and lime wedges for garnish if desired. Warm flour tortillas should also accompany the soup.

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