Monday, January 16, 2006

Albondigas Soup

Whenever I have leftover meatloaf, meatballs or just unused ground meat, I stick it in the freezer. Often, these leftovers end up chopped up in a tomato-meat sauce for pasta or in a sandwich. This time, however, they made it into a homemade version of a popular Mexican soup.
Albondigas soup, also known simply as meatball soup, is practically a menu staple at most Mexican restaurants. The recipe is not as consistent as its presence, however. I've had thick soups and brothy soups, both spicy and mild and with all manner of ingredients and flavorings. In this version, I stuck with some familiar spices and kept it fairly mild, though on a cold day I would consider increasing the heat. Beef broth gave the soup a rich flavor. I definately saved a few minutes of preparation by using leftover, frozen meatballs, which I simply popped into the soup along with everything else. If you don't have any meatballs on man, you could really use any type of meat here. Chicken or shredded beef would work well.
With all the vegetables in the soup, this was a very satisfying and healthy meal. I used a lot of canned ingredients (mostly organic), which meant that I didn't have to worry about having tomatoes on hand or not. After all the chopping was done, which only took a few minutes, this was very low maintainance and a good choice for a weeknight.

Albondigas Soup
1 medium onion
¾-1 cup carrots, diced
½ cup (2 stalks) celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp diced green chilis
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp coriander
1 can fire roasted roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can corn, drained or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 medium potatoes, diced
6 cups beef broth (or 3 cups broth, 3 cups water)
12-16 small frozen meatballs (homemade is best, of course)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or a 5 or6-qt. dutch oven, sweat the onions, carrots and celery over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic, green chilis and spices, along with some salt and pepper, and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, along with salt and pepper, and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender - about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Serves 6