Mexican Meatball Soup with Rice & Cilantro

We have someone in our family who despises cilantro. I don’t want to name names or anything … but we call him DAD for short. Yep, my dad. He hates cilantro and he can spot it at twenty paces blindfolded with his nose plugged. It’s become a long-running joke in our family. And you know how dads are with their jokes … need I say more? I’ll just say it again: long running.

Personally, I LOVE cilantro. I can’t get enough of it in my diet. Next to basil, it’s my favorite herb. And I guess that’s one of the reasons I adore this soup. Even if you’re in my dad’s cilantro-hating camp, make the soup. C’mon, try it. Just leave out the cilantro. Swap in some Italian parsley if it makes you feel better.

This albondigas (that’s Spanish for meatballs!) soup is delicious and hearty – perfect for a blustery winter night. The original recipe, which I’ve been making for years, calls for ground beef and ground pork sausage. I like it that way too – but, as I mentioned on Monday, I’m trying to lighten things up a little bit, so I decided to use ground turkey breast and turkey breakfast links (removed from their casings, of course). I also used chicken broth instead of the beef broth that was called for.

The end result with the changes was actually quite good. We enjoyed the soup with a big green salad and a side of hot and gooey nachos – okay, I know those aren’t exactly light. But I only had one or two. For real!

I’m going to list the original recipe here, just so you have it. You can try it either way. And whether you choose to use the cilantro or not – well, that’s up to you!

ENJOY! Stay warm!


Serves: 6-8

Source: Bon Appétit Magazine, December 2000 issue; p. 142

  • 2 T. olive oil (I used one)
  • 2 ¾ c. chopped onions, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 5 14 ½ oz. cans beef broth (I used 1 ½ cartons of the sale Imagine Chicken broth)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used two 14 ½ oz. Dei Fratelli Tomatoes, on sale)
  • ½ c. chunky tomato salsa
  • ½ c. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (I used sale ground turkey breast)
  • ¼ lb. bulk pork sausage (I used 3 turkey sausage links, removed from their casings)
  • 6 T. yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ c. whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. ground black pepper
  • ½ t. ground cumin
  • ½ c. long grain white rice

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium high heat. Add 1 ¾ c. onions, 2 garlic cloves, and bay leaves; sauté 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes with their juices, salsa, and ¼ c. cilantro; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ground beef, pork sausage, cornmeal, whole milk, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, then remaining 1 cup onions, 2 garlic cloves, and ¼ cup cilantro in medium bowl. Mix well. Shape meat mixture by generous tablespoonfuls into 1 to 1 ¼ inch balls.

Add rice and meatballs to soup and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until rice and meatballs are tender, again, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into serving bowls (heated bowls, if you’re feeling fancy!) and serve.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | January 6th, 2010