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    Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)

    I’ve got to tell you about this absolutely delicious Albondigas Soup. It’s genuinely a soup for your soul. I love plump, juicy meatballs in a hearty tomato infused flavorful broth, loaded with tons of veggies.

    This is Sopa de Albondigas, and it’s a prime example of comfort food done right. When you try my version of this Mexican meatball soup, you’ll be amazed at how something so light and refreshing can be packed with such bold flavors. It’s a must-try!

    Albondigas soup in a clay bowl.

    I’ve been whipping up a lot of Mexican soups lately after discovering my all-time favorite Caldo de Res in our local Mexican grocery store, with its small little restaurant. We’ve also tried the chicken version, Caldo de Pollo. They all have the same concept of beautiful, clear broth with a punch of bold flavors (not spicy) that I get drawn to.

    This one has those plump albondigas, aka meatballs, and tons of perfectly cooked veggies. Who wouldn’t want this caldo de albondigas all the time?

    What is Albondigas Soup?

    This Mexican meatball soup, also known as Sopa De Albondigas or Caldo De Albondigas, in a red dutch oven.

    You know, Albondigas Soup, pronounced “al-bone-dee-gus,” is something really special in Mexico. Over there, they call it Sopa De Albondigas, or Caldo De Albondigas. It’s one of those dishes you’ll find in just about every home, with recipes that have been lovingly passed down through generations. Every family has their own way of making it, but they all share that same comforting taste. It’s truly a staple.

    Some like it plain and broth-like, and some like it spiked with a little of their famous chilis. Whatever way you try it, you can always notice the fresh veggies and those delicious meatballs.

    Albondigas means “meatballs” in Spanish. This Mexican soup has a special kind of meatballs, with rice, herbs and spices. It also features whatever veggies are in your refrigerator according to the season. The broth gets enhanced by tomatoes, lime juice and warm Mexican spices.

    Although Albondigas originated in Spain and are typically enjoyed as tapas there, this soupified Mexican version is quite different. They are typically made with ground beef, but a mix of ground pork and beef is not uncommon. Here, the meatballs are cooked directly in the broth, so they soak up a lot of flavor.

    What Veggies Can Go In This Soup?

    Close up of this Albondigas soup.

    When I make Albondigas Soup, I carefully choose the veggies based on what’s fresh and what I have on hand. The staples are usually potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, green beans, zucchini, and chayote, a type of Mexican squash.

    I don’t throw all the veggies in at once, though. To make sure each one is perfectly cooked, I add them at different times. Carrots and potatoes need more time to soften up, so they go into the pot first. Zucchinis and green beans don’t need as long, so I toss them in later. This way, each vegetable is just right, enhancing the soup’s flavor and texture.

    Ingredients Needed

    For Albondigas:

    • Ground beef – I usually use leaner beef for the meatballs, like 90% lean. It helps keep the soup from getting too greasy. This way, you get all the good flavors without too much fat floating on top.
    • Garlic – Always use fresh.
    • Rice – I use uncooked, as it’s more traditional. Some people use cooked rice.
    • Eggs – Great binding agent.
    • Herbs – Parsley and mint (optional).
    • Spices – Oregano, cumin, black pepper and salt.

    For Soup:

    • Oil – I use olive oil, but you can use whatever neutral oil is on hand.
    • Vegetables & aromatics – Onion, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, canned diced tomatoes, zucchini and green beans.
    • Broth – I use chicken broth. Either beef broth or vegetable broth can be used instead.
    • Herbs and seasonings – Cumin, oregano, cilantro, lime juice, chili flakes and salt.

    How to Make Albondigas Soup

    Meatballs on a plate prior to cooking.
    1. Make the meatballs: I mix all the ingredients for the albondigas right in a bowl and then roll them into meatballs. Usually, I make them pretty big, plump and round, rather than small. Once they’re all rolled up, I pop them in the refrigerator to chill until I’m ready to drop them into the soup pot.
    2. Sauté the aromatics and veggies : I start by heating some olive oil in a pot and then sauté the onions until they’re translucent. After that, I add in the garlic and let it cook for a minute or two, just until it’s fragrant. Then, I throw in the heartier veggies like carrots, celery, and potatoes, and let them cook for a few minutes to start softening up.
    3. Simmer: Next, I add in the tomatoes and broth, along with a sprinkle of cumin and oregano for that extra flavor. I bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer on medium for about 15 minutes. This gives the flavors a chance to meld together nicely.
    4. Add the meatballs: After the broth has simmered, I gently drop the meatballs into the soup. Then I cover the pot and let it cook for about 20 minutes. I make sure to stir it gently a few times just to make sure everything cooks evenly and the meatballs stay intact.
    5.  Add the remaining veggies: Then, I add in the green beans and zucchini, along with some fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of red chili flakes for a bit of heat. I let it all cook together for another 8 to 10 minutes, just until the veggies and meatballs are fully cooked through.
    6.  Garnish and season: Time to stir in lime juice and taste and season for salt. Garnish with cilantro and extra lime.
    The dutch oven full of simmering soup.

    What to Serve With this Soup?

    This soup is really a full meal by itself. It’s nutritionally well-rounded, packed with vegetables, rice, and lean protein. It’s super hearty and filling. I often serve some tortillas with it, just charring them over a flame or in a hot pan. Rolled up, they’re perfect for dipping into the soup. And I usually add a scoop of Mexican rice right in the corner of the bowl, enjoying it between sips of the soup.

    How Do You Keep the Meatballs from Falling Apart?

    Two bowls of albondigas soup.

    When making meatballs, you need something to hold them together while they cook. Things like breadcrumbs, eggs, or soaked bread can work. For Albondigas, I use eggs and rice as binders. I make sure to mix everything really well and then chill the meatballs in the fridge for a bit to help them keep their shape.

    If you’re not careful, the meatballs can fall apart during cooking. It’s important to handle them gently. I don’t just dump them all into the soup at once. Instead, I lower them in one at a time using a large serving spoon or a strainer. And when I stir the soup, I’m really careful not to break them.

    Can I Use Other Ground Meat?

    Yes, of course. Though it’s traditionally made with ground beef, you can make it with ground turkey or ground chicken for a lighter dinner option. You can even use half and half of ground beef and pork for more enhanced flavors.

    Side view of the soup bowls.

    How to Get Juicy, Tender Meatballs?

    Don’t overmix the meatball mixture. Overwroking the ground meat tends to yield dry and tough meatballs. Just combine all the ingredients well enough and start rolling the meatballs.

    Close up of one of the bowls.

    There you go… everything and anything you want to know about this special Mexican soup. So delicious and soul warming. Try all these new flavors this winter, or any time through out the year. We love bringing you all these ethnic and regional classics from all over the world…

    Now, where would you find an authentic albondigas soup? Right in your very own kitchen with a little help from GypsyPlate… 🙂

    Albondigas Soup, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    A clay bowl full of albondigas soup atop the Gypsy Plate.

    Check out some of our other Latin soup recipes!
    Picadillo Soup
    Sopa de Lentejas
    Sopa de Fideo
    Asopao de Camarones
    Asopao de Pollo
    Birria Ramen


    Featured image for albondigas soup post.

    Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)

    Yield: 8-10 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 50 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

    This Albondigas Soup, or Mexican Meatball Soup, features plump meatballs and lots of veggies in a super flavorful broth. So comforting!


    For Meatballs

    • 2 lbs lean ground beef
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • ½ cup rice, uncooked
    • 2 eggs
    • ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
    • 3 Tbsp mint, chopped (optional)
    • 2 tsp oregano
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper

    For Soup

    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2-3 carrots, cut into big chunks
    • 2 celery ribs, cut into big chunks
    • 8 baby gold potatoes, halved (or 2 large potatoes, cut into big chunks)
    • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 2.5 tsp oregano
    • 8 cups of chicken broth
    • 2 small zucchinis, cut into big chunks
    • ¼lb green beans, halved
    • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp lime juice
    • 1 tsp red chili flakes
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • Salt to taste


    Stove Top Method

    1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs (ground beef, garlic, rice, eggs, parsley, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper) in a big bowl and roll mixture into large meatballs. You can get about 14-15 meatballs. Keep them in the refrigerator till they are ready to go into the soup.
    2. Heat oil in soup pot on medium high heat and sauté onion till it become soft and translucent. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute.
    3. Add in carrots, celery and potatoes and combine well. Cook for 5 minutes
    4. Add in tomatoes along with cumin and oregano and stir well. Add in chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
    5. Slowly add in meatballs, being very cautious not to break them. Give a gentle stir. Cover and cook for for 20 minutes.
    6. Add in green beans and zucchini along with cilantro and red chili flakes and cook for 8-10 minutes, till zucchini and green beans are cooked and meatballs have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
    7. Add in lime juice and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
    8. Serve it with more lime and cilantro for garnishing.

    Slow Cooker Method

    1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a big bowl and roll mixture into large meatballs. Keep them in the refrigerator till they are ready to go into the soup.
    2. Add all other ingredients into slow cooker and mix well. Gently lower meatballs into the broth,
    3. Cover and cook on 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.

    Instant Pot Method

    1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a big bowl and roll mixture into large meatballs. Keep them in the refrigerator till they are ready to go into the soup.
    2. Turn your instant pot to the Saute setting, then sauté onion till translucent. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute.
    3. Add in celery, potato and carrots and sauté well for 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes, broth, spices and bring it to a boil. Add in meatballs.
    4. Close the lid and seal it. Pressure cook it for 4 minutes on High Pressure.
    5. When the cook cycle is finished, allow pressure to natural release. Add the zucchini and green beans along with cilantro, lime juice and red chili flakes. Let it cook on sauté mode till they are all cooked.


    Leftover and Storing: This soup is excellent the next few days, as all the flavors get enhanced while it sits. Simply refrigerate it in an airtight container up to 3-4 days and reheat when ready to eat. Meatballs tend to soak up the broth, you might need to add some extra chicken broth when reheating.

    This soup freezes well also, up to 2 months for best quality. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on stovetop.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 10 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 336Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 122mgSodium 1194mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 3gSugar 4gProtein 31g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

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    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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