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Mar 18, 2017

Sopa de Albóndigas | Mexican Meatball Soup

This Sopa de Albóndigas was inspired by a Mexican cookbook I have had forever. 

Sopa de Albóndigas | Mexican Meatball Soup

This Sopa de Albóndigas, or Mexican Meatball Soup, is pretty simple, but completely flavorful. Mr. Kitchen declared that this soup is "amazing." He normally is pretty tentative about the spicy food I make, but he adored this soup.

In my collection of cookbooks, I have a little shelf of old cookbooks from when I was a young bride (the first time). This shelf includes a 1960s version of The Joy of Cooking, Cook My Darling Daughter by Mildred O. Knopf from my mother, a few cookbook compilations by women's clubs that my mother belonged to, and the book, The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, published in 1965. From what I understand, there are several iterations of this book with updates on the market, but mine is a first edition.

This book was given to me by my future mother-in-law. Not Mr. Kitchen's mother, who was Irish, but the mother of husband 1.0, whom I met in college. His mother was born and raised in northern Mexico, and she was very traditional. She gave me this book so that I would be able to make traditional Mexican food for her son.

While the marriage was very short-lived (at 22, I clearly lacked the necessary maturity), I still hung onto and treasured the cookbook. It was written by a British food writer who began her discovery of Mexican food when her husband, a Mexican UN Secretariat official, took a position in Mexico City with the United Nations Information Center.

How interesting that my Mexican mother-in-law would give this American girl a Mexican cookbook written by a British food writer so that her son would get served the Mexican food he knew and loved. Pretty ironic, right?

Sopa de Albóndigas | Mexican Meatball Soup

The author of the book reports that, at the time, most Mexican señoras she met did not actually cook themselves, but relied on household help to do the cooking. In 1965 there was not a lot of available literature on the art of Mexican cooking, so, because she wanted to explore and cook the food of Mexico, she relied on street vendors to give her cooking lessons.

One of my favorite quotes: "The fact that I cooked at all was frowned on, until my cook-cum-maid reported to my mother-in-law that I was, after all, a respectable ama de casa (Spanish elegant for housewife). She said I couldn't really cook; I only pretended to be able to; that I looked everything up in a book, and what real cook would do that?"

There are 340 recipes in the book, as well as explanations of basic Mexican ingredients and cooking methods. She reports that the recipes in her book are authentic, and not adapted to American tastes or ingredients. The book is divided into 14 chapters covering ingredients, the corn kitchen, soup, rice and pastas, sauces, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, vegetables, salads, desserts, and drinks. She also lists sources for finding ingredients and equipment for preparing these dishes.

Another favorite passage of mine is how she begins her section on soups. She writes, "Mexican men take soup seriously. They tend to feel deprived if a soupless meal is served at midday." I also love the quote from James Beard on the jacket, "A book of delicious variations on what is really a little-known theme." Times have definitely changed.

I'm sure that the food in Mexico, like food throughout the world, has evolved and changed over time, but it was wonderful to dip back into this 50-year-old cookbook.

This month, the Soup Saturday group, created by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, is presenting soups with a Mexican theme. I had originally planned to make posole for this event, but when I stumbled across this cookbook while organizing my bookshelves, I had to make this soup.

After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the Mexican themed soups recipes.

Mexican Meatball Soup Recipe

Mexican Meatball Soup Recipe


For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 recipe albóndigas plus one cup of the cooking liquid from the meatballs
  • Diced red bell peppers and parsley or cilantro

For the meatballs:

  • 2 slices white bread
  • Milk
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal or beef
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • l large onion, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups meat stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 can chipotles in adobo, chopped


To make the soup:

  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onion until tender but not browned. Add the garlic, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and beef stock to the pan and simmer, uncovered, for for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the meatballs and one cup of the meatball cooking liquid and simmer for five to ten minutes, until the meatballs are fully heated.
  3. Garnish with red bell peppers and parsley or cilantro

To make the meatballs:

  1. Soak the bread in milk, and squeeze dry just before using.
  2. Mix the meats, onion, bread, eggs, and salt and pepper thoroughly, and form the mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls.
  3. Combine the stock and tomato juice, add the chopped chiles, and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs, a few at a time, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl with one cup of the cooking liquid. You can refrigerate them for later, or make the soup immediately.
  4. The leftover cooking liquid can be saved and frozen for soups and sauces.
Yield: 6 servings

Sopa de Albóndigas | Mexican Meatball Soup

Would you like to comment?

  1. It's always nice to be able to get nice memories from marriage 1.0 - mine was not too short lived, at seven years, but clearly I did not make the right choice. Upgraded to Forever Version 2.0

    love your soup, the cookbook behind it, and the theme you chose for this month!

    it's all great!

  2. Love your post! I found the quotations you shared cute...things have certainly changed, haven't they. In my short marriage 1.0 (truly I had no idea what I was doing)...he didn't like anything so cooking was a real adventure, especially since I wasn't really good at it and then to try to do it without onions, without peppers....the list went on and on. Marriage a fun cooking adventure! We both love to cook and are willing to try anything! I am anxious to make your Albondigas Soup. It is one that I have always wanted to make! Great post!

    1. We all need a "starter" marriage to appreciate the good one we have now =)

  3. I love every single thing about this recipe. I will be making this, for sure. P~

  4. I love old cookbooks- and what a special cover this is for yours- great stories behind the food that we make, makes cooking so much fun I think! Wonderful recipes do too- this looks lovely!

    1. Completely agree with you! Thanks so much!

  5. I Love love love going through old cookbooks. The cookbook section is always one of the first places I head when going into antique or second hand shops. This soup sounds amazing.

    1. Me too Wendy. I always head to the cookbooks. I've picked up some pretty amazing finds that way.

      The soup is really tasty =)

  6. Old cookbooks are the best, aren't they?
    Loved reading your post and looking at the pictures.
    That soup looks amazing!

  7. I love your memories and the story behind the cookbook. I'm still on marriage 1.0, but am married to a man who proclaims himself very conservative in his food tastes, however, he loves Mexican food, thankfully. I make us an Albondiga's soup from time to time as well, so couldn't feature that one for this month.
    I'm a collector of old, old cookbooks, the older the better.
    Can I say I'm a little (a lot) envious of your cookbook? Just kidding.

  8. Wonderful ! you own a Mexican Cook book, this soup looks tempting.

  9. What a wonderful cookbook...and this soup is a certainly a must try!

  10. LOVED the old cookbook and your memories that go with it:) The 2 most cherished items in our cooking bookshelves are a)the handwritten recipes from Panos' mother and b)a collection of clippings from 30-40 year old magazines with traditional Greek recipes, with 50s and 60s themes like "for the smart wife" which still were present when talking about recipes lol:)
    The recipe is really delicious. Mexican food is rare here, there's only 4-5 Mexican restaurants available in Athens, so we mostly cook Mexican at home. And your dish is definitely a must-try!

    1. Those are my favorite recipes too. I still have some hand written recipe cards from my mother =)

  11. Our favorite Mexican restaurant had this soup and it was incredible!!!!

  12. I am not feeeling well today, and this would make me feel so much better!!

  13. This looks like such a nice bowl of comfort food - YUM!!


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