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Sopa de Albondigas

Sopa de Albondigas has long been one of our favorites. It’s a perfect soup for January, too – hearty, a little spicy, and easy to adapt to a paleo or whole thirty diet – just eliminate the small amount of rice in the meatballs, and substitute arrowroot flour to help them hold together.

Another easy trick – skip the work of the meatballs entirely. Purchase one pound of a good-quality bulk chorizo sausage, shape into meatballs, and cook as directed below.

Carrots and green beans are my usual vegetables, but I had to sub for the green beans recently, and used a chayote squash, chopped, a small zucchini, sliced, and a handful of sugar snap peas, halved. I used more like one pound of green vegetables, and the soup was very flavorful and pretty, too. So, use what you have on hand.

Sopa de Albondigas

(Mexican Vegetable Soup with Meatballs)

4-6 servings


1 lb. lean ground beef, or substitute ground dark-meat turkey

1/2 c. finely chopped white onion

1 green onion, both white and tender green parts finely chopped

1/2 ripe tomato, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 heaping Tbs. uncooked long-grain white rice, optional

1 Tbs. fresh oregano, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. dried, crumbled

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour, white rice flour or arrowroot flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbs. olive oil plus more for browning meatballs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 large carrots, cut into 1/4” thick rounds

1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1 1/2” pieces

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

6 c. beef stock, or if making turkey meatballs, turkey or chicken stock

1 or 2 tsp. chilpotle chilies, minced (use canned chilpotle in adobo sauce)

1 avocado, peeled and sliced for garnish

1/4 c. cilantro leaves for garnish

6 wedges lime

Place all the ingredients for the meatballs in a mixing bowl. Mix together with your hands, then shape into bite-size balls (about 1 1/4” - or about 45 meatballs). Place on a plate, cover, and chill for 1/2 hour. Place a little olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and don’t crowd; do two batches if necessary. Brown meatballs lightly, turning to brown all over. Set aside.

Place 1 Tbs. olive oil in a soup pot over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano and salt and increase heat to medium-low until the onion softens. Add the carrots, green beans, and tomatoes; pour in the heated stock and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs carefully, so they don’t break apart, and bring soup back to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked and vegetables are tender. Stir in the chipotle chilies to taste. Cook another 5 minutes, then taste for salt. Ladle the soup into bowls; garnish with avocado and cilantro and serve the lime on the side.

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