This albondigas soup recipe is huge on flavor with Mexican meatballs simmered in tomato broth with lots of vegetables, a comforting home-cooked crowd pleaser.
We're cooking up a big pot of Albondigas Soup in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends! Would you care for a bowl? We love this dish and enjoy serving it up to our friends, or saving batches to enjoy during the week.
What is Albondigas?
Albondigas is essentially Mexican meatballs. The name "albondigas", translates to "meatballs", and they are quite similar to the meatballs you may be used to, only made with more traditional Mexican seasonings.
Albondigas are traditionally served in a couple different ways, as an appetizer, with the meatballs simmered in a tomato-based sauce that is much like a gravy - Albondigas en Caldillo - or served in a thinner tomato-based broth along with simmered vegetables.
I'm focusing on the second version today, Albondigas Soup, or Caldo de Albóndigas, as it is known in Mexican cuisine. It is pure Mexican comfort food and sure to satisfy.
In Mexico, albondigas are considered more of a home-cooked dish, made with simple, economical ingredients and meant to feed a group. Home cooks love to stuff their meatballs with bits of hard-boiled egg or other ingredients, like olives, to offer a surprise and pop of flavor to their visitors.
You can find this Mexican meatball soup in some Mexican restaurants, though there just isn't anything better than homemade.
Here is how I make mine, again more of a soup, though I do include notes below if you'd prefer to serve yours as an appetizer.
Let's talk about how to make albondigas soup, shall we?
Albondigas Soup Ingredients
- FOR THE MEXICAN MEATBALLS (ALBONDIGAS)
- White Bread. Bolillo bread is great for this, but use whatever white bread that's available to you.
- Milk. For soaking the bread.
- Ground Beef. Or you can use a mix of ground beef and ground pork.
- Cilantro. You can swap in other herbs. Spearmint leaves are an interesting substitution.
- Seasonings. Cumin, salt, black pepper, optional cayenne pepper for spicy.
- Olive Oil. For cooking.
- FOR THE SOUP BASE
- Tomatoes. I like fresh tomatoes, but canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce work great for this recipe.
- White Onion.
- Canned Chipotle Chilies.
- Chicken Stock. You can use other stock or broth, like beef broth or vegetable broth.
- FOR THE VEGETABLES
- Potatoes, Carrots, Zucchini, Green Beans. You can use others to your preference.
- For Serving. Cooked white rice, fresh chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes
How to Make Albondigas Soup - the Recipe Method
MAKE THE MEXICAN MEATBALLS (ALBONDIGAS)
Soak the Break and Make Paste. Soak the bread and milk in a large bowl for 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze the bread in your hands to form a paste. This is an old trick I also learned from my grandmother. It helps to bind the meat.
Hand Mix the Meatball Mixture. Add the ground beef, eggs, onion, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Hand mix until combined, but do not overmix.
Form the Meatballs. Hand form the meat mixture into small sized meatballs about 1.5 inches across and set them aside.
MAKE THE SOUP BASE
Boil the Tomatoes, Onion and Garlic. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to a small pot. Cover with water then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and add the vegetables to a food processor.
Food Processor. Add the chipotle chilies and process until smooth. Set aside for now.
MAKE THE ALBONDIGAS SOUP
Brown the Meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium high heat. Add the meatballs in batches and cook on each side, about 10 minutes. Set the meatballs aside.
Simmer the Sauce Base, Stock and Vegetables. Add the chipotle-tomato sauce base to the pot with the chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, zucchini and green beans. Add more chicken stock for a thinner soup base. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots have softened.
Add the Meatballs. Add the meatballs and simmer another 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
Serve the Albondigas Soup. Serve the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and chili flakes.
Boom! Done! Your albondigas soup is ready to serve! Doesn't it look wonderful? I cannot wait to dig into this. Patty and I both greatly enjoy albondigas soup and love to mix it up with the vegetables and seasonings each time we make it.
Albondigas and Albondigas Soup are often served with cooked rice.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Stuff the Meatballs. Traditional Mexican Albondigas recipes often stuff the uncooked meatballs with extra ingredients, like hard-boiled eggs or olives. The stuffing adds to the flavor and texture.
- The Vegetables. You can use all sorts of different vegetables in albondigas soup. I am using potatoes, carrots, zucchini and green beans, but I've seen version with radishes, cherry tomatoes, peas, celery and others. Use whatever you'd like.
- Other Herbs and Seasonings. You can use many other fresh herbs for this recipe as well. Spearmint is commonly added, as is Mexican oregano and parsley. Other seasonings to try include allspice or other chili powders. Feel free to use your favorites.
- Albondigas Appetizer (Albondigas en Caldillo). If you'd prefer to serve this as an appetizer instead of a soup, skip the chicken broth in the soup base and skip all of the vegetables. Make the meatballs and the sauce as written, then simmer the Mexican meatballs in the sauce-gravy until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes. The sauce is more like a gravy or a thin spaghetti sauce.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this albondigas soup recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
If you love traditional Mexican cooking, I love these cookbooks with recipes from all over Mexico. Definitely recommended.
- Mexico: The Cookbook (affiliate link, my friends!)
- Made in Mexico: The Cookbook, by Danny Mena (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Mexican Recipes
- Pollo Asado (Mexican Roast Chicken)
- Caldo de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup)
- Chicken Pozole Rojo
- Pozole Verde (Green Pozole)
- Mexican Birria
- Sopa de Fideo
- Caldo de Camaron (Mexican Shrimp Soup)
- See all of my Mexican Recipes
Try Some of My Other Popular Soup and Stew Recipes
- Pozole Recipe
- Sancocho (Latin American Stew)
- Carne Guisada
- Pollo Guisado
- Green Chile Stew
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Albondigas Soup Recipe (Caldo de Albondigas)
FOR THE MEXICAN MEATBALLS (ALBONDIGAS)
- 2 slices white bread chopped (bolillo bread is great for this)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2.5 pounds ground beef or use a mix of ground beef and ground pork
- 2 large eggs
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro spearmint leaves are an interesting substitution
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, for spicy
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
FOR THE SOUP BASE
- 2 pounds tomatoes chopped
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 canned chipotle chilies
- 1 cup chicken stock or more to preference
FOR THE VEGETABLES
- 2 medium potatoes chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 2 cups green beans chopped
- For Serving: White rice, fresh chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes
FOR THE MEXICAN MEATBALLS (ALBONDIGAS)
- Soak the bread and milk in a large bowl for 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze the bread in your hands to form a paste.
- Add the ground beef, eggs, onion, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Hand mix until combined, but do not overmix.
- Hand form the meat mixture into meatballs about 1.5 inches across and set them aside.
FOR THE SOUP BASE
- Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to a small pot. Cover with water then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and add the vegetables to a food processor.
- Add the chipotle chilies and process until smooth.
FOR THE ALBONDIGAS SOUP
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium high heat. Add the meatballs in batches and cook on each side, about 10 minutes. Set the meatballs aside.
- Add the tomato-chipotle soup base to the pot with the chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, zucchini and green beans. Add more chicken stock for a thinner soup base. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots have softened.
- Add the meatballs and simmer another 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
- Serve into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and chili flakes.