Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican Meatball Soup:

There is something comforting about cozying up on the couch with a bowl of soup after a long day. Interestingly, the word, ‘restaurant,’ (derived from the French word restore meaning “to restore”) was first used in France during the 16th century to describe a highly concentrated soup sold by street vendors and advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion.

A few years ago while living in Los Angeles, I discovered the joys of Mexican soups and stews. A couple of notable favorites include Birria and Caldo de Res, but by far my favorite Mexican soup is Albóndigas, which literally translates to “meatball” in Spanish. Luckily, I was able to jot down a family recipe from a friend, whose mother makes an amazing version.

What’s great about Albóndigas is that it’s super-simple with the little precision required. It’s a hearty and rustic soup that makes for a quick one-pot meal, perfect for those nights when you’re in need of a little TLC.

Albondigas Soup
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
1 1/3 cups ½-inch carrot slices (about 1 large)
1 cup ½-inch potato cubes
2 cans (8 ounces each) beef or chicken stock
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup uncooked rice (long-grain or short-grain)
½ cup minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1 egg

Cilantro sprigs
1 lime, quartered (4 wedges)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, sauté until the onions are translucent, about 1 minute.

Stir in carrots and potatoes; sauté over high heat to lightly brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and stock. Stir and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

While soup is simmering, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, rice, mint, oregano, salt, pepper, and egg. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Add the meatballs to the soup. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes more.

Ladle soup into four bowls. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedge, and serve.

While other three-year-old girls played with their Barbie dolls, Joy Liao made herself an imaginary kitchen. She’d pretend to be the butcher at the market, taking a plastic knife to her stuffed animals. (She wasn’t a troubled child, promise!) Having an insatiable appetite for all things delicious, Joy grew up in the kitchen learning about cooking from her mother. After college, she pursued an editorial/media career, and more recently, rediscovered her passion for food in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco.

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