What is Albondigas Soup?
Albondigas is one of the most preferred Mexican style soups that is so flavorful and very tasty served in the most know bowl that my mother often used. It is the Spanish version of meatballs. This delicious soup is filled with small meatballs that are rolled in a ball filled with several ingredients along with the veggies and potatoes that make the soup so appetizing. This was also one of my mother’s favorite dishes to make as it was my family’s favorite soup as well. This dish along with all the soups my mom made was and still are a traditional Mexican soul food. This is a Mexican dish and depending on what city in Mexico you reside in the recipe becomes uniquely different.
This soup to me is more like a comfort food especially during the cold or rainy weather. As I was growing up, I was very fortunate to come home to fresh home cooked meals because my mother didn’t work and she stayed at home. Once I was out of school, I was anxious to get home because I knew there was always something delicious cooking on the stove. As I walked towards the door, I could begin to smell the delicious aroma of my mother’s food. I always looked forward to whatever my mom made especially this delicious soup on a cold rainy day and it was the best. It was a soup that was and still is warm hearty and very flavorful. We often ate this with a tortilla and some mayonnaise smothered in it, and little squirt of lemon in the soup to give it that lemony taste. The tortilla with mayonnaise was a must have as I dipped the tortilla in my soup with squirts of lemon. It was the perfect combination. The meatballs in my mother’s recipe was just so distinct that when you bite into it, it makes you wonder what is that in-distinctive taste. This was only to find out that it is the that the mint added a little kick to the meat balls. My mother was always so proud when she made her dishes and always made more than enough as my mother loved the compliments of her food.
Origin of Albondigas
It is so amazing to know the Albondigas acquired its name from the “Arabic word al-bunduq, which derives from the Greek word for hazelnut, suggesting that the meatballs are of the same shape and size” (Culinarylore, 2016). I never imagined to call Albondigas a meat ball, I never thought of it this way until I was doing research on this dish. Little did I know that this dish originated in Spain in the 16th century. However, the dish goes back even further as it is also considered an “Islamic or Moorish transplant” as it was tracked back to the Islamic influence during the time when the Arabs invaded Spain. However, it is also linked to the Europeans way of cooking. Nevertheless, as Koji stated, food is a mixture of cultures. The albondigas has been a mixture of cultures too as it seemed to have been a very important and enjoyed just now as much as it was back then. The albondiga/meatball soup has been very infamous recipe back then just as it is today. The original recipe was made of beef, turkey or chicken. The dish has been made with cilantro, mint, oregano and many more spices added to it. As time passed this dish has changed and there are many distinct ways or preparing this dish. This recipe was introduced to Mexico when the Spanish Conquistadores conquered Mexico. Since then, the recipe has one again changed as every city if Mexico will prepare it uniquely. Nonetheless, the albondigas comes from the same origin and continues to be a preferred dish today.
Ingredients for the Recipe
1 tomato sliced 1 white onion sliced 1 can of tomato sauce 1 sliced potato 1 sliced chayote Baby Carrots 4-6 single celery stalk sliced into small 1 pd of ground beef Bundle of mint finely chopped Tomatillos diced ½ onion diced 1 egg Rice Knorr Mexican Chicken Flavor Bouillon seasoning
Directions in preparing the Meatballs
bundle of mint finely chopped tomatillos diced 1 pd of ground beef ½ onion diced 1 egg rice (not cooked) mix all ingredients and make into small meatballs about the size of a hazelnut
Directions for preparing the Soup
Once the ingredients have been prepared and arranged, put a little oil in a pot with sliced onion and tomatoes to sauté for about 10 minutes.
Once sautéed add water and allow to boil for about 10 minutes.
Once the water begins to get hotter add 1 can of tomato sauce, Knorr Chicken Flavor Bouillon based on your taste preference to enrich the flavor of the soup until the mixtures have settled and darkened for about 5 minutes.
Once the water becomes flavorful add the vegetables excluding the celery and let boil for about -10 minutes. You want to make sure that the veggies do not soften where it begins to fall apart.
As it continues to boil and veggies begin to soften a little, you will then add the prepared small albondigas (meatballs) and continue to boil. Once the albondigas are half way cooked you can add the celery so that it can have that semi firm texture as it can soften too much and continue to boil and let the soup cook thoroughly to perfection!
The nutritional benefits of this dish are the ground beef. In my recipe I used 93% lean, it is rich with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Ground beef is available in a variety of fat contents to accommodate the consumers healthy choices. Chayote is a fruit and is also known to be an anti-inflammatory. It is rich in fiber, antioxidants and helps with indigestion. It is also known to lower cholesterol and control sugar levels. Chayote is low in calories and contains high level of water that will make you feel full. It is rich with vitamin C, minerals and contains folate known as folic acid. It also contains zinc which support our taste and smell. Golden Potato is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B 6, potassium and fiber. Baby Carrots are known to improve you vision and contain beta carotene, fiber and potassium. Celery nutritional benefits is that it is full of antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory. It is also known to improve blood pressure, prevent cancer and is beneficial for your digestive system and your heart.
Significance Albondigas Soup
It is a traditional homemade soup that has been passed through three generations of my family, from my grandmother to my mother and now me and my siblings. I hope to one day pass this recipe on to my kids and hope they enjoy it as much as I do. It was very significant that I learn how to make this recipe as it is a part of my childhood and brings a lot of memories. This recipe along with many other recipes will be lost if we do not learn to make these dishes. Therefore, it is very important to learn as this will down the line continue creating some good family memories. This dish has also been passed down to my sister in laws as well. I come from a large family and Mexican families are usually family oriented, so whenever I make this family recipe my siblings get excited and ask if they can come over for dinner. This dish happens to brings my family together and that makes me happy. My mother also gets very delighted to see her children together and what an amazing way to do this, a simple authentic Mexican soup. I am so grateful to my mother that taught me which I have now mastered on how to make her infamous Albondigas soup. I have mastered my mom’s recipe and this is very meaningful. My sister also has told me that I happen to make this dish better than her and that it tastes just like my mothers. My mother took a lot of pride when she cooked for me and my sibling and just as Roy Choi stated in his book “Cook with your soul” (Choi, 331), and that is exactly whaat my mother did whenever should cooked any meal. Now that I have learned to make this dish my mother is honored that I can make this dish because she always tells me “you see, I taught you well”.
My connection to this dish is that albondigas represents our culture and family traditions. Being a first generation here in the U.S., I was brought up eating authentic Mexican food. My sibling and I did not eat the typical American food (burgers, hot dogs French fries, sandwiches, etc…) which a lot of these foods are known as junk food known in spanish as “comida chatarra” . I didn’t even know what that was until I became a teenager. American food then became a treat after Sunday mass. You can eat fast food anytime but a homecooked meal is almost rare now. When I was younger, I had no interest in learning how to cook, now that I have my children, I learned to make this recipe. When my son was younger, he would eat this soup. Now that he is an adult, I have tried to cook Albondigas on cold rainy days but he barely eats and my daughter is such a finicky eater sometimes she will refuse to eat. It is so sad that I feel my kids will not have the same experience and the connection to our cultural Mexican cuisines that was previously past down throughout our past three generations.
Orange carrots acquire their color from beta carotene.
Chayote a fruit also known as the mirliton squash belong to the gourd family. Every piece of this plant is edible from, the stem, the leave to the seed.
Though it said that the Spanish Albondiga meatball originated in Spain the Europeans claim that it originated and it was influenced by them.
Choi, R., Nguyen, T., & Phan, N. (2013). L.A. son: My life, my city, my food. New York, NY: Ecco.