This Spicy Albóndigas Soup - Caldo de Albóndigas - is my take on the classic Mexican soup recipe. Loaded with savory ground pork Mexican meatballs, healthy vegetables, and Hatch green chile, it's Mexican comfort in a steaming, hearty pot of soup!
🖋️ Note from the author: The body of the post has a lot of helpful tips for making this recipe the best it can be on the first try. You'll want to scroll through to avoid missing anything! On the other hand, you can click to various sections with the links above...
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Spicy Albóndigas Soup Inspiration
Albóndigas was probably my favorite soup growing up, and my mom did it really well. I have continued to make her "recipe" with a couple of exceptions: 1. I didn't know about Hatch green chile as a child, and neither did my mother. And 2. I have a method of infusing my Latin-style meatballs with flavor as I did with these Peruvian meatballs. The result is firm (not crumbly), moist, and flavorful meatballs.
With the arrival of fall, soups and stews find their way back to my menu planning, and on to my schedule for recipe trials. I try to forget the fact that it's still 90° outside.😉 Given that I've been making this soup recipe for 4 decades, it didn't require much testing at all. Be sure to read all the way through the post to get all my tips for making the best ever homemade albóndigas soup!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- ground meat - On photo day, I chose ground pork, and it's really my preference when making Mexican meatballs. However, you can make this soup with beef, turkey, chicken, bison, etc. The choice is 100% yours!
- onion - My "go to" onion is the red onion. You can use what you prefer, or what you have.
- cilantro - On photo day, my cilantro was not stellar. I'd bought it just a couple of days prior, but I couldn't use half of it. I like to just cut the cilantro at the base of the leaves to remove tough stems. I had to pick through it to get the amount I got for the meatballs. I had to substitute parsley for the garnish. No reason to stress!
- garlic - While my preference is always to press whole garlic cloves, I'm not averse to using minced garlic or minced roasted garlic to save time!
- panko - You can substitute regular bread crumbs.
- ground cumin
Spicy Albóndigas Soup
- meatball mixture - The meatball mixture should be the first step, and should be ready to go prior to starting the soup.
- onion - I like red onions, but any variety of onion (or shallots) is fine.
- ground cumin
- tomato paste
- chicken broth - See the Top Tips section below for boosting the flavor of the broth.
- Mexican oregano - I keep Mexican oregano in my pantry, but not everyone does. Mediterranean oregano is fine!
- potatoes - I found these itty bitty potatoes, and only a couple of them needed to be sliced. I like to keep the size small to enable quick cooking.
- green beans - On photo day, I had some lovely haricots verts. Any green beans - regular fresh green beans or frozen green beans - are just fine. I don't love any canned vegetables, but you don't have to tell me!
- corn - On photo day, I cut corn off the cob. It was amazing. However, I would not hesitate to use frozen corn. Again, use canned (if you must), but do not tell me... NOTE: One ear of corn equals about ½ cup off the cob.
- Hatch green chile - I recently brought home 45 pounds of Hatch green chile, and that will always be my preference. However, you can use frozen or canned chopped green chile, roasted and diced poblano chiles, etc. Be flexible!
- Step 1 - Process the cilantro, onion, and garlic.
- Step 2 - Press cilantro mixture through a strainer.
- Step 3 - All ingredients for the Albondigas meatballs before mixing should be added to a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine! Yes. Please. This is the best way to combine all ingredients!
- Step 4 - Form 1-2" meatballs. Brown them in a bit of oil or non-stick cooking spray. Brown on at least 2 sides. They do not need to be cooked through. They finish cooking in the soup.
- Step 5 - Sauté the aromatics (onion, celery, and carrots if using). This provides the flavor base for the broth.
- Step 6 - Add tomato paste, garlic, and cumin to the pot. Sauté for a minute or two to release flavors.
- Step 7 - Add the broth, potatoes, and Mexican oregano to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes before adding green beans, corn, and Hatch green chile.
- Finish the albóndigas - Simmer the pot of albóndigas until ALL vegetables are tender. This is important! Nobody likes crunchy vegetables.
- Serve - Garnishes elevate this Mexican soup to a higher level. On photo day, I had cilantro issues. My cilantro that was purchased for photos was marginal. I had to substitute Italian parsley for the cilantro. Lime wedges are a nice option. Sliced or cubed avocado is fantastic. Of course a corn tortilla (or two) will be welcome. Enjoy!
OMG. YES! It's just as good for lunch the next day. Keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
There are some really good pre-made meatballs on the market, and you can certainly use them. The soup will still have a Mexican flavor. If you're in a big hurry, this is a great option to still get a healthy and flavorful meal on the table.
💭 Top Tips
If you hate to pick cilantro leaves (as I do), cut at the base of the leaves. The thin stems are not bitter, and you can add them to the processor as is.
If you want firm (not crumbly) meatballs that are moist and flavorful, take a moment to process the cilantro, onion, and garlic with about ½ cup of water. Press through a strainer to dry it all out before adding to the meatball mixture.
To boost the flavor of the broth, reserve the liquid from the cilantro/onion mixture, and add in with the broth.
I love to use these Sunburst potatoes. The size of these petite potatoes means most - if not all - can go directly into the soup pot with no knife work at all. Less time spent on prep work! I also love their creamy texture.
I often make a double-batch of meatballs when I make them. I freeze half of the mixture (un-cooked) in a zip bag until I'm ready to use them. This is a great time saver!
Macronutrients were calculated using 1 pound of lean ground pork. You can further reduce calories by using ground turkey or chicken.
- If you love meatball soup, but don't want the heat, simply omit the Hatch green chile.
- If you have pre-made meatballs, save a bunch of time by using them in the soup. It will be different, but still delicious!
- Feel free to switch out the vegetables with your favorites... carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes come to mind.
I love soup weather, but I don't often get it here in south Texas. Our air conditioner runs most of the year. However, I still have to have a good pot of soup occasionally, and this one is a favorite at Andersen casa!
Spicy Albóndigas Soup Recipe
- 1 small onion - cut in chunks
- 1 cup cilantro leaves - thin stems are fine
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 pound ground meat - see Ingredients for suggestions
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg - beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- several grinds pepper
- meatball mixture - formed into balls
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1 stalk celery - small dice
- 1 onion - chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken broth - see Notes below
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 8 ounces potatoes - bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups green beans - bite-sized pieces;
- 1 cup corn kernels - about 2 ears
- ½ cup Hatch green chile - chopped; see Ingredients above for substitutions
- ½ teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper - to season
Make the Meatballs
- Process the cilantro, onion, and garlic with ½ cup of water. Press cilantro mixture through a strainer. Note: If I remember, I add the liquid into the pot with the chicken broth. Add the cilantro mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining meatball ingredients to the bowl. Combine thoroughly.
- Form meatballs. Brown them in a little bit of oil or coat pot with cooking spray. Remove from the pot, and set aside.
Make the Albóndigas
- To the same pot, add a drizzle of oil (leave the browned bits). Sauté the onions and celery for about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, and cumin to the pot. Sauté for a minute or two to release flavors.
- Add the broth, potatoes, and Mexican oregano to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Add the green beans, corn, and Hatch green chile. Simmer the pot of albóndigas until ALL vegetables are tender.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.