If you’re Mexican, chances are your mamá made albondigas all the time. But it’s not a bad thing because albondigas en caldillo are ultimate comfort food.
Hola amigos! As you can see today I’m sharing my recipe for vegetarian Mexican meatballs served in broth. Traditionally the broth is made with a tomato sauce, but I created this version using a non-spicy red chile broth. The reason I did this was for my husband. He suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and we experiment with limiting his intake of certain foods to see if it causes extra inflammation in his joint. At the time we were testing out tomatoes and that’s how this albondigas version was born.
You’ll see that I made the meatballs with lentils and amigos, let me tell you they make a fantastic replacement. They hold their shape perfectly in the broth and they mix well with all of the other flavours in the soup — I’m sure you’re going to love them.
How to Make Mexican Albondigas Soup (Albondigas en Caldillo)
- !Ingredients for “Meatballs”
- 1 cup cooked lentils* I boiled 1/2 cup dried lentils with 2 cups of water
- 2/3 cups boiled rice* I cooked with 3/4 cups of water
- 1/2 teaspoon Maggi sauce
- large pinch teaspoon of salt
- large pinch black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- pinch of ground cumin seed
- large pinch dried crushed Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 medium egg or vegan equivalent
- 4 Tablespoons glutten-free crumbs or use regular bread crumbs
- !Chile Sauce Ingredients
- 1 dried large guajillo chile pepper
- small piece of onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- !Ingredients for The Soup
- 1/4 cup chopped white onion
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 large potato peeled and cut into even-sized bite-size pieces
- 2 large carrots peeled and cut into even-sized bite-size pieces
- 1 large zucchini cut into even-size pieces (don’t cut too small or they’ll fall apart)
- couple sprigs fresh cilantro
- 4 cups low-sodium or homemade veggie broth
- extra cooked rice for adding to the soup
- !Instructions for “Meatballs”
- Cook the lentils and rice with just water (see amounts in notes) and allow to before seasoning. In a small bowl combine all of the dried spices from the meatballs list and set aside. Mash the cooked lentils until broke down into a paste (it’s ok if there’s some whole lentils throughout), then mix in the rice and stir until well combined. Next add the Maggi sauce, the mixed spices and mix until well combined. Then add the egg and mix well, then the breadcrumbs and mix well. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.
- !Instructions for the Chile Sauce:
- In a small pot bring about 2 cups of water to a boil, them add the chile, onion and garlic and cook until soft. Blend the ingredients with 1 cup of boiling broth until smooth — be careful & let it cool before blending. Set aside.
- !Instructions for the Soup:
- In a large pot heat a a Tablespoon of olive oil then add and saute the onion until soft. Then add the carrots and saute for a few minutes before adding the minced garlic and the potatoes and saute for about 8 minutes to help them start to soften up. Next strain the chile mixture into the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, then add 4 cups of vegetable broth & the cilantro and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Taste and see if it needs salt or any other seasoning. If not proceed.
- While waiting for the broth and vegetables to cook, remove the meatball mixture from the fridge and form the meatballs (this recipe makes 14) and lightly fry in just a splash of oil until just beginning to crips a bit.
- Once the vegetables are cooked you can add the zucchini and the cooked meatballs to the soup. Place each meatball into the pot very carefully and once inside the pot do not disturb. Cover the pot again and simmer for 20 minutes — without stirring! Turn the heat off and allow the soup to cool slightly before serving.
- To serve scoop some cooked rice into each bowl then carefully ladle in the soup and meatballs too. Serve with lime slices, salsa or chopped chiles of your choice, additionally if you’d like you can also serve with warm corn tortillas. Makes great leftovers!
The soup tastes really good — and even better the next day. You can serve the rice on the side if you like but I love a big scoop in my albondigas soup. You’re going to be surprised just how similar the taste in this meatless version is to the original one. Don’t worry it isn’t spicy at all, the guajillos just give it that colour that the traditional tomatoes would.
The soup is hearty enough for a warming dinner and you’re going to love it. Don’t forget that squeeze of lime juice!
Happy cooking and adios amigos!