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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mexican meatball soup varies with each cook

By Linda Cicero
Knight Ridder News Service

Caldo albondigas, Mexican meatball soup, takes on the preferences of the cook and often depends on what's in the pantry.

Some cooks use lean ground beef for the meatballs. Others use a mixture of beef and pork or beef and sausage. Rice, cornmeal or bread crumbs can be used to make the meatballs. Some flavor the meat with cilantro, others with mint.

The broth can be beef or chicken and may or may not have tomatoes. I've also seen recipes that call for vegetables such as carrots, peas and string beans. The garnish can include lime wedges, corn tortillas, finely diced ham and sour cream.

It may not be definitive, but this recipe is very good. Feel free to tailor it to your own tastes.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (16-ounce) can stewed or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken or beef broth
  • 1 (7-ounce) can diced green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • 1/2 cup raw white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut in thin strips
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 lime wedges

    Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and minced garlic until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to incorporate, then spoon into soup pot. Add the broth, undrained green chilies and cumin, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook while preparing meatballs.

    To prepare meatballs, place the meat, rice, cilantro, salt and pepper and egg in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Form into tiny (1-inch) meatballs. Slip the meatballs into the soup, cover and simmer an additional 45 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender. Serve garnished with strips of corn tortillas, fresh cilantro and sour cream, and pass lime wedges to squeeze into soup at the last minute.

    Makes 8 servings.

  • Per serving: 336 calories (59 percent from fat), 21.9 g fat (8.1 g saturated, 10.1 g monounsaturated), 83.2 mg cholesterol, 15.8 g protein, 18.9 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 662.4 mg sodium