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Albondigas Soup is made with beef and rice meatballs, carrots, potatoes, and zucchini in a rich tomato broth. Packed with flavor, this simple Mexican Meatball Soup recipe will quickly become a family favorite.
Some of our other favorite Mexican soups include Caldo de Pollo (Mexican Chicken Soup), Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup and Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup.
If comfort food is your thing, you have to try this Albondigas soup! It’s warm and satisfying and packed with flavor. Serve it as an appetizer course before another traditional Mexican dish like Chicken with Mole Sauce or Green Chile Chicken Tamales. Or serve it as the main dish with some Mexican Rice and Homemade Flour Tortillas on the side.
Table of Contents
What is Albondigas Soup?
Albondigas Soup is a flavorful Mexican meatball soup, that is both satisfying and comforting. It’s full of thick, juicy meatballs, potatoes, vegetables and Mexican spices in a rich tomato broth.
The Albondigas Soup recipe is similar to an Italian Wedding Soup, where the meatballs and broth are cooked together to make the meat super tender and for the best flavor. The potatoes are starchy and thicken the soup just slightly, while the veggies add bulk.
Ingredients for the Meatballs
- Lean ground beef – You don’t want a lot of grease seeping into your soup, so stick with the leaner 90% ground beef.
- Egg – to moisten and help hold the meatballs together.
- White onion – Finely chopped. You can substitute yellow or red onion.
- Long grain white rice – This acts as the binder (similar to breadcrumbs in Italian meatballs), and it cooks within the meatball.
- Garlic cloves – 2 or 3, finely minced.
- Salt – Needed for flavor. Ground beef need to be properly seasoned.
- Spices and herbs – ground cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano
Ingredients For the Soup
- Low-sodium chicken broth – I always choose low sodium so I can have better control of the salt content.
- Vegetables – Crushed tomatoes, carrots, russet potatoes, zucchini.
- Optional – freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedges
How to Make Albondigas Soup
There are two parts to this recipe – meatballs and broth.
- The meatballs are formed from ground beef, raw rice, egg, onion, garlic, and spices, then simmered in the soup broth over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Feel free to add fresh herbs if you have them on hand.
- The rice is added raw and will cook with the meatballs as they are simmered.
- You can make the meatballs large or small, but they are traditionally fairly large. Aim to make similarly sized meatballs for even cooking.
The broth is made with chicken broth or beef broth, crushed tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and zucchini. You can add minced cilantro to the soup if you like, and lime to brighten the flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are worried about your meatballs falling apart, using cooked rice will help. As the raw rice cooks, it expands, which can cause the meatballs to break apart. It doesn’t happen to me all the time, but it has happened. Instead of ¼ cup of raw rice, use ½ cup of cooked rice.
This soup has tender meatballs made with ground beef, rice, onions, garlic, an egg, cumin, and oregano. The broth is simple and made with chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and zucchini. Sometimes carrots or celery are added, and occasionally you’ll find some jalapeno added for heat. Cilantro or lime juice are usually added at the end.
You can! Just add all of the ingredients to your crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper at the end.
This hearty soup can be served in smaller portions as a starter or appetizer. Or, you can serve it as a complete meat with flour or corn tortillas on the side.
This soup is actually quite beautiful on it’s own, with the rich broth and colorful veggies. To dress up the soup before serving, sprinkle on some chopped cilantro or parsley.
Using a different meat. You can use basically any ground meat – ground turkey, ground pork veal, chicken etc.
Make it spicy. Add a slice jalapeno to the broth or some red chile flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Store bought meatballs? I don’t recommend store bought meatballs. This recipe is all about fresh, homemade meatballs and you just won’t get the same flavor with store bought, frozen meatballs. It will just be plain meatball soup, which i fine, but it won’t have the traditional Mexican flavors and spices.
Make Ahead, Storage and Freezing
Make Ahead: You can make this soup a couple of days in advance, and store it, tightly covered (or even in the soup pot), in the refrigerator. To serve, bring to a simmer on the stovetop until everything is warmed through.
Storage: Cool soup completely, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheating on the stovetop is recommended, but you can also use the microwave.
Freezing: Cool completely, then store in airtight, freezer-safe containers or freezer bags for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop (recommended) or in the microwave.
- Combine the meat mixture with your hands, to avoid overmixing.
- Squeeze some fresh lime into your bowl for a burst of freshness.
- Feel free to adapt this recipe, using fresh herbs, different veggies like green beans or use tomato sauce instead of the crushed tomatoes.
- To add heat, toss in some sliced jalapenos.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes
- Mexican Sopes Recipe
- Pozole Rojo with Chicken
- Carne Asada Fries
- How to Make Homemade Taquitos
- Best Guacamole Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup white onion finely diced
- ¼ cup long grain white rice
- 3 garlic cloves finely minced
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 48 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes undrained
- 3 large carrots peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3-4 large russet potatoes about 1 pound, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 zucchini squash about 12 ounces once chopped, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Optional: freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedges
- Add the ground beef, egg, onion, rice, garlic, salt, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, and oregano to a large bowl and stir by hand or with a spoon just until combined.
- Form 2-inch balls from the mixture and set the balls on a plate for later.
- Add the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes to a large soup pot or Dutch oven and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Gently add the meatballs to the broth and let them cook for 10 minutes then add the carrots, potatoes and zucchini to the pot and let them boil for another 5 minutes then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add 2-3 more cups of water if needed and let it simmer for 10-15 more minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving with freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedges.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Delicious. Better than any restaurant Albondigas soup I have ever tried. Yummy, yummy, yummy!!!
Thank you S. Perez! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by to share.
Thanks for sharing this recipe, my husband is a chef, he makes the best Mexican food. My husband lives albóndigas Mexican soup, he had to go out of town for a couple of weeks so I had to cook this time. Today I made the Mexican albóndigas soup it came out so good even my kids loved it. I am from Central America, and my favorite food is the pupusa, it’s a traditional Salvadorian food.
You are so welcome Rosa! Love the comment, thanks for stopping by.
I absolutely loved this recipe. Abondigas soup is one of my very favorite soups and I have never made it myself. You can save so much money by making it yourself and my entire family loved it! My husband could not stop raving about it, which just warmed my heart. Thank you Kristen for this yummy recipe.
You are so welcome Dee! Thanks for stopping by to share such an awesome comment.
This was a great albondigas recipe! My meatballs came out a bit more salty than expected, so I definitely would reduce the amount of salt in that mixture next time.
Love the feedback Nikki! Thanks for stopping by.
Nothing could ever be just like my moms but this is so darn close! I added cilantro to the meatball mix, I used tomato sauce rather than the canned tomatoes because she would as well, and next time I would just do a tad less on the cumin – 3/4 teaspoon. I can’t believe how good it came out. Thank you so much!
You are so welcome Yanet! Thank you for the awesome feedback.
really good!! i made my meatballs smaller and they were firm to cut, but still tender when eating! would try again!!
Thank you Janet! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by.
January, 2023 OUTSTANDING.
We all loved this soup. I followed the recipe and also added more carrots and used Mexican squash. Since I LOVE corn, I added fresh corn cut into “niblets.” I added mint to the meatballs because, well this is Albondigas! A must. I sautéed the onions before adding them to the meatballs and used the rest for the soup. I also added one sliced jalapeño for heat. I topped with cojita, avocado, green onion, cilantro, a lot of lime and a dash of crema. I have shared this recipe with everyone I know! I am looking forward to making sopas and carne asada!
Fantastic feedback Marla! Thanks for stopping by to share.
LOVE this soup! I tweeked it a bit. I used beef broth instead of chicken and added some fresh green beans. Put the fresh cilantro and lime to finish off each bowl! Oh, and I used cooked rice instead of uncooked. Yummy!
Love the feedback MaryAnn! Thanks for stopping by.