Sopa de Albondigas

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Welcome to the first post of MB’s Table.  I hope you enjoy my journey as I sift through my recipe files and cookbooks and pull out my favorites recipes to recreate and share. These recipes will include some of the best meals I’ve cooked with family and friends over the years.   As I explained in “About” they are for the most part not my own unique creations.  The unique recipes have generally never been recorded, as I’m cooking them on the fly with whatever I happen to have on hand, borrowing from the classic techniques I’ve learned over the years from many other great chefs and cooks.  Maybe someday I’ll start recording them as I go!!

This first recipe however is one that I do consider my own and I’ve spent many years perfecting it.  As with many of the great recipes in life it came about as the necessity of invention.  In the 80’s and 90’s I had the good fortune of living in Southern California where Mexican food was wonderful and inexpensive-i.e. no need to cook your own.  On nearly every Friday our family and friends would get take out from Alamo Rotisserie in Granary Square.   One of the of the staples we ordered at the request of my son was the Albondigas Soup. Loaded with lots of flavor and vegetables it was a working mom’s dream.   When we moved to Columbus Ohio in 1994 – no Alamo and no soup to be found!!  So I set about creating a soup from my flavor memory with the ingredients I could find at hand.  Today I’m giving you the scaled down version of the soup that I’ve been making a minimum of two or three times a year for the last 20 odd years.  At one point I purchased a 16 qt stock pot to hold the quantity required to feed the many people at my table for at least two meals.  The scaled down version will still make 6 to 8 servings, but trust me, as with most soups of this style it just gets better on the 2nd or 3rd day, so don’t worry that it’s still a lot of soup.

Here’s hoping you enjoy this heart warming soup on a cold and blustery day.

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Sopa de Albondigas

(Mexican Meatball Soup) by: M.B. Einerson

Servings: 6 to 8

The Albondigas (Meatballs)

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Garlic, onion, cilantro, lean ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin and uncooked rice

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When I make a double batch I chop the garlic, onion and cilantro in a food processor but for this scaled down version it’s easiest to do it by hand! Now for the Soup

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Oil, onion, garlic, chile de arbol, broth, celery, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in juice, potato, carrots, green cabbage and zucchini.

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Start with the slivered onion in oil and sweat until it starts to become translucent.

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Then add the garlic and chilies. This is important to insure that the garlic and chile don’t become burt and bitter. In this batch I used just one chile and Kyle noticed that it was a bit lower in heat!! So adjust to your level of comfort.

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As soon as you can smell the garlic add the broth, celery, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and bring it to a simmer.

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Once the soup comes to a simmer, add the potatoes, carrots and meatballs. Be sure to add the meatballs one at a time to keep the temperature of the soup at a simmer. A wide 7 1/4 quart dutch oven like this one is ideal! Once all of the meatballs are in, bring the soup to a low boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

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Remove the lid, add the cabbage and squash (in a double batch I like to use one zucchini and one yellow squash) and simmer uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

SOPA DE ALBONDIGAS

       (Mexican Meatball Soup) 

by: M.B. Einerson

Servings: 6 to 8

The Albondigas (Meatballs)

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (so I really mean 2!)
  • ½ of a small onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro leaves
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne or chipotle pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons uncooked rice (any type will do but I use brown)

The Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut in wedges and thinly slivered
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (so again it’s always 2 if not more)
  • 1 to 2  dried chile de arbol, broken and stems removed or ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 8 cups broth or stock (I prefer a mixture of chicken and beef and generally use a 50/50 blend)
  • 1 stalk celery including the leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (this is approximately ½ of a 15 oz. can)
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes with juice ( this is approximately ½ of a 14.5 oz. can) or 1 large fresh tomato diced (use fresh only if in season but in this recipe I think canned works best)
  • 1 medium potato, diced (a red or other boiling potato is best if you want to keep pieces of potato intact)
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  •  Meatballs from the above recipe
  • 2 cups thinly shredded green cabbage ( about ¼ of a medium sized head)
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced

Meatballs: By hand or in a food processor, finely mince the onion, garlic and cilantro leaves.  Add the finely minced onion mixture to a medium bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients and combine (your hands will be the best tool here).  Form into 1 inch meatballs and set aside until needed in the soup. To be honest I actually wait until I’m ready to add them to the soup to form them as it helps keep the soup at the best temperature if I’m forming them just as I am dropping them into the soup.

Soup: Add the oil to a large stock pot or Dutch Oven (a 7 ¼ quart is a great size) and heat gently.  Add the onion slivers and let them sauté until they are just starting to become translucent.  Add garlic and dried chilies and sauté for less than a minute-when you can smell the garlic it’s enough.  Add the broth, celery, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Bring the mixture to simmer and add the potatoes, carrots and then add the meatballs one at a time so the temperature of the broth doesn’t drop significantly.  Once all of the meatballs are in, bring the broth to a low boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Allow the soup to simmer covered for 45 minutes.  Remove the lid and add the cabbage and squash and simmer uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the squash is crisp tender.

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