Albondigas Soup Recipe

Packed with herbs and rice, these little meatballs are flavored even more when they're poached in this spicy broth.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


for the albondigas:
⅓ cup|80 grams white rice
1 pound|450 grams ground beef
¼ cup|15 grams finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten

for the soup:
¼ cup|60 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce|400-gram) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups|1 ½ liters beef broth
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup|15 grams finely chopped cilantro leaves, plus leaves to garnish
crema or sour cream, for garnish


  1. Make the albondigas: Bring a small pan of generously salted water to a boil, add the rice, and cook, like you would pasta, for 12 minutes, then drain. Cool completely and transfer to a large bowl, then add in the remaining ingredients. Roll into 16 equal-sized balls and transfer to a sheet tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Make the soup: Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chili flakes, oregano, cumin, and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they break down a even more, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and potatoes and bring to a boil over high. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  3. Add the albondigas and poach, uncovered, until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste. Serve hot, topped with more cilantro leaves and crema.

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