This albondigas soup is made with beef and rice meatballs which are simmered in a seasoned tomato broth along with potatoes, carrots and zucchini. A hearty soup that both kids and adults will enjoy!
I make soup almost every week, my kids adore chicken tortellini soup, cabbage roll soup, and this Mexican style albondigas meatball soup.
I’ve professed my love for soup many times, but sometimes I crave something different than your standard chicken noodle. This albondigas soup is a Mexican style soup loaded with veggies, potatoes and tender spiced meatballs. It’s full of bold flavors and totally satisfying!
To make this recipe, you will need ground beef, rice, egg, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, onion, carrots, potatoes, beef broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and zucchini.
How do you make albondigas soup?
The first step is to make your meatballs. I use a combination of lean ground beef, cooked rice, garlic, cilantro and cumin. The beef mixture is formed into small balls. Make the soup base by sauteeing onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil. Next, add potatoes, beef broth, tomatoes and seasonings to the pot. Bring the vegetables and broth mixture to a simmer, then add the meatballs and finally the zucchini. Top with a little fresh cilantro, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for albondigas soup
- Be sure to cut your potatoes into small pieces so that they’ll be done at the same time as the meatballs.
- This Mexican meatball soup is written to be mild in terms of spice level. If you prefer hot and spicy food, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes or a few teaspoons of hot sauce to the broth.
- Albondigas soup makes great leftovers! Simply reheat your soup on the stove top or in the microwave.
- This soup is hearty enough to stand as a complete meal, but I often serve it with a side of bread or tortilla chips.
- Be sure that the soup does not come to a boil, or the meatballs can become tough.
- Mint is a traditional addition to albondigas soup. I typically don’t use it because my kids don’t care for it, but feel free to add a small amount of chopped fresh mint leaves to the meatballs if you like.
Many albondigas recipes call for uncooked rice in the meatballs. I prefer to use cooked rice because the meatballs don’t have to simmer for as long. I find that an extended simmer time to soften raw rice can sometimes cause the meatballs to break apart in the soup. You can absolutely use uncooked rice if you prefer, use 1/4 cup of uncooked rice instead of the 1/2 cup of cooked rice that this recipe calls for. Just be sure to adjust your cook time accordingly.
Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs, often translated as “small meatballs”. The type of meatballs traditionally found in albondigas soup are made with ground beef and use rice as a binding agent.
There are a couple of tricks to keep your meatballs from falling apart in the soup. One is to use cooked rice. This allows the meatballs to cook for a shorter period of time, which makes them less likely to break apart. In addition, be sure not to over mix the meat mixture. If the meatballs have been over mixed, it can change the final texture when cooked and also make them more likely to split open.
slow cooker albondigas soup
This recipe is a great candidate for the slow cooker! Simply add the prepared meatballs and the rest of the soup ingredients to the crock pot, then cook on low for 4-6 hours. If you’re worried about your meatballs falling apart in the slow cooker, you can briefly broil them before adding them to the pot so that they’ll hold their shape better.
While this recipe is delicious as-is, you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Protein: While less traditional, you can substitute ground chicken, ground turkey or ground pork for the beef.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add other veggies to the mix such as celery, green beans, spinach or corn.
- Seasonings: Add more flavor to your soup with fresh herbs such as green onions, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice. You can also top the finished dish with a dollop of sour cream or diced avocado.
Once you try this amazing soup, it’s sure to become part of your regular dinner rotation! The beef and rice meatballs come out so light and tender, and they pair perfectly with the savory broth, creamy potatoes and fresh veggies.
More soup recipes to try
- Mexican Chicken Soup
- Chicken Taco Soup
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Ham Bone Soup
- Farro Soup with Meatballs
For the meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 cup cooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the soup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 carrots peeled, quartered and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups Russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 6 cups beef broth
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes do not drain
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 large zucchini quartered and sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the meatballs. Place the beef, rice, garlic, egg, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Roll the meat mixture into 3/4 inch sized meatballs. Place the meatballs on a tray.
- For the soup. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, beef broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin and oregano to the pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 minutes. Drop the meatballs into the soup and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, then serve.
- Many albondigas recipes call for uncooked rice in the meatballs. I prefer to use cooked rice because the meatballs don’t have to simmer for as long. I find that an extended simmer time to soften raw rice can sometimes cause the meatballs to break apart in the soup. You can absolutely use uncooked rice if you prefer, use 1/4 cup of uncooked rice instead of the 1/2 cup of cooked rice that this recipe calls for. Just be sure to adjust your cook time accordingly.
Fantastic recipe! Very flexible. I was able to format it to use what ingredients I had on hand. Homemade chicken stock, a mix of frozen and fresh veggies, doctored up the meatballs with smoked paprika and red chili. Added corn at the end.
I really like the idea of putting the rice in the meatballs. It makes them more moist, but also stretches the food budget a bit!
Sooo much flavor. You were right it wasn’t too spicy for us but it had tons of yummy complex flavor from the spices, tomatoes and cilantro. Love it! Looking forward to leftovers today for my lunch.
Delicious, I have never heard of this soup before, but love soup for dinner and the whole family enjoyed this.
WHat a flavorful and delicious soup recipe. Thanks for sharing,.
This is my first time hearing of albondigas soup – sounds and looks so hearty and delicious – especially with this cold wave going through!
To live for soup!
Your albondigas recipe was sooo very good! I’m taking the leftovers over to my sister in laws tomorrow so she can sample my new dish! I am famous for always adding or omitting things from recipes to fit what I like. Thank you for the wonderful soup while the temperature outside is 3 degrees here! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas
What / how much is considered a serving?
It’s 1 1/2 cups
Hi! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Will Jasmine rice work, or does it need to be long grain? Thank you!
Jasmine rice should work fine!
Could I do this in a crockpot?
Yes that should work!
Can I used quinoa instead of rice?
I think it could work but I haven’t tested it this way!