Family Dinner, Transplanted to Minnesota

December 4, 2008


So, I’ve had a lot to say about Thanksgiving dinner: the pies, the cranberries, the whole darn line-up.  But would you believe that there was another meal last weekend that had me even more excited?  On Friday night, my sister, Kevin and I had a family dinner—just like all those we shared in Chicago during the year my sister lived here, before moving back to Minnesota a couple months ago.





This one was in Minnesota (at my sister’s beautiful new apartment) and we had some extra generations of the family around the table, but it was a family dinner nonetheless.  My sister thought soup would be a good bet—something light to ease the inevitable day-after-Thanksgiving guilt.


After much recipe link swapping, we selected this recipe for Albóndigas, which is a Mexican rice and meatball soup.   (Questionable whether soup remains light when it’s packed with meatballs, but we went with it.) My theory is that Ali just wanted guacamole and salsa and the soup was an excuse to make both.  Regardless of her motives, it was a delicious pick.


This soup is rich and hearty, but at the same time zippy and bright.  The broth is infused with cilantro, citrus and tomato juices.  In it bob bits of well-cooked long-grain rice and pork-and-beef meatballs, which are flavored with ground cumin and bound together with cornmeal, egg and a splash of milk.


The Epicurious commenters assure us that we can swap out the beef broth for chicken broth and substitute ground turkey or chicken and turkey sausage for beef and pork sausage in the meatballs.  But day-after-guilt or not, it was still a holiday weekend and I decided to make the recipe as written. This soup has been firmly added to the rotation, though, so I’ll have ample opportunities to tinker.

Mexican Meatball Soup with Rice and Cilantro
Bon Appetit

Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 3/4 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 small bay leaves
5 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth*
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup chunky tomato salsa (medium-hot)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 pound bulk pork sausage
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 3/4 cups onions, 2 garlic cloves and bay leaves; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juices, salsa and 1/4 cup cilantro; bring to boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine ground beef, pork sausage, cornmeal, whole milk, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, then remaining 1 cup onions, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup cilantro in medium bowl. Mix well. Shape meat mixture by generous tablespoonfuls into 1- to 1 1/4-inch balls. Add rice and meatballs to soup and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice and meatballs are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

*  We used two quarts of beef broth and one broth of chicken broth.


20 Responses to “Family Dinner, Transplanted to Minnesota”

  1. Chris Says:

    Oh, this is making me drool. Looks great. I think we have the same dutch oven. 🙂 I’ve never made albondigas with rice; sounds nice!

    Here’s the last version we made:

  2. canarygirl Says:

    Gooooooooooodddddddddd! I want that. For breakfast. I am starring this one for next week. You always post the best recipes, woman! 🙂

  3. sue bette Says:

    Looks like classic comfort food! I’ve been trying to tweak out an albondigas recipe myself – so I am excited to give this one a try!

  4. radish Says:

    Oh my, you’re only making my soup addiction worse!! I’m going to have to make this — hopefully it’ll get colder in NY (I can’t believe I just wrote that!) so it’ll be nice and hearty! Meatballs AND soup – how can you go wrong?

  5. culinarycory Says:

    This recipe looks pretty easy to make. I love meatballs and I love soup. So whenever there is a chance to put them together, then I go for it.

  6. This looks SO GOOD. Just got added to my list…maybe next week! 🙂

  7. thebeerbitch Says:

    I’ve been making this soup for years, but forgot about it until now. This is a delicious version of meatball soup. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Dawn in CA Says:

    mmmmm…Albóndigas. On very rare occasions, I will see this soup on a Mexican restaurant’s menu, and I always order it because I love it so much. Don’t know why I never thought of making it before, but now I will! Looks delicious. Thanks!

  9. Ali Says:

    Busted… I guess you knew my motives all along; I can be quite manipulative when it comes to your salsa and or guacamole. But the Albondongas (as Kvas would call them) were surprisingly, quite good!

    Looking forward to FD this week!

  10. This would be perfect right now! I have actually never tried Albondigas before…just another one of your recipes to add to my “to try” list 🙂

    I have been sipping so much tea to try to keep warm. Can you believe its this cold in Dec??? I think its going to be a rough winter.

  11. adriana Says:

    Delicious. I make albondigas all the time but I have never had sopa de albondigas.

  12. diane (mom) Says:

    It was so fun,so delicious, and so heartwarming to have family dinner in Minnesota!I must say I am often jealous of the fabulous food and the family atmosphere…I loved sharing it with everyone.This was definitely a win! MOM

  13. Madeline Says:

    My mom is mexican, so she’s been making albondigas for me since my childhood. Try turkey for a tasty/healthier way to make this soup… also for more authentic mexican taste try two bay leaves in the broth… also skip the salsa part and use tomato sauce/chicken broth.

  14. Chris: Looks great! And the dutch oven was my mom’s. I love the fire engine red.

    canarygirl: Thanks! And meatballs for breakfast? Now, you’re talkin.

    sue bette: Oooh, I’ll keep an eye out for your version.

    radish: Nooo, don’t wish for the cold. Trust me, it will come. In fact, it might just be on its way from Chicago. I had to thaw my fingers just so I could type.

    culinarycory: I have a turkey meatball soup recipe in the archives too, if you’re looking for other check-both-boxes kind of soups.

    Andrea: Tell us how it goes!

    thebeerbitch: Any time. : )

    Dawn: I hope you try it!

    whitney: So. So. So. Sooooo. Cold. Unreal.

    adriana: I’m curious … how do you eat the albondigas on their own? If you have a favorite preparation, I’d love to know!

    mom: I’m already itching to get back in that kitchen with you in December. Miss you!

    Madeline: You know, I was kind of stumped by the salsa in the ingredient list too. I used an all natural salsa (I like Rick Bayless’ brand), which made me feel better, but I think additional tomatoes and some lime juice would do the trick.

  15. Ulla Says:

    That does look great. I love Mexican soups!

  16. thecynicalchef Says:

    The soup looks great. I am going to try it out next week.

    Fyi- Not sure if you noticed but you have the second paragraph of the recipe twice. I only noticed when I went to print it out.

  17. sooishi Says:

    wow it looks divine!

  18. Ulla: Thanks!

    thecynicalchef: I do hope you try it! And thanks for the note about the recipe—it’s fixed now.

    sooishi: Thank you!

  19. I made this tonight and it was wonderful! Thanks for another great recipe.

  20. whitney: Wonderful to hear! Hope it keeps you warm this week …

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