Albóndigas Soup

Albóndigas is Spanish for meatballs and in Mexico, it’s often understood to mean “meatball soup“, so it may be redundant to call this albóndigas soup. I don’t know for sure. I just know I like it.

albondigas soup

The meatballs are made from beef, but rather than breadcrumbs or something similar, it’s mixed with raw rice that cooks as the albóndigas simmer. They have a light, fluffy texture when they’re ready. My mom used to make what she called “porcupine meatballs” like this. I think her recipe called for a much higher ratio of rice to meat than albóndigas, and the balls were cooked in tomato sauce and served over mashed potatoes. Starch on starch on starch!

This is definitely a less starchy dinner than that was.

Of course you may use any vegetables you like to use in soup; I won’t mind! I love stewed vegetables so I go nuts with lots of carrots, celery, cabbage and calabaza (a summer squash similar to zucchini, but more bulbous and the skin is a variegated green and white). Green beans would be good; and I’d like to try turnip or rutabaga some time.

I really recommend that you use fresh mint, parsley and cilantro in this recipe. With the fresh herbs and lime juice garnish, it’s warm, lively and bright — making it a perfect soup for both cold winter nights and warm summer evenings.

The ground cloves might be a surprise, and really you could omit them if you don’t have any on-hand, but they add a little sharpness, woodiness, heat, without being overpowering or even nameable. They’re just there, hanging around, making everything a little more piquant without stealing the show.

Aaaand, not to push you around too much, but it’s also really really better if you use homemade chicken stock. It’s richer and fattier and at least 10 times more delicious than canned or cartoned broth. I make a big batch in my slow cooker every time I roast a chicken, then once it’s cooled and strained, I freeze it in quart-size Mason jars. Be sure to leave at least one inch headspace at the top and do not screw the lid on until it’s frozen solid. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a cracked jar full of frozen chicken stock.

albondigas soup


Albondigas Soup

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • meatballs:
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons raw white rice
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro (omit if you don’t like it)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Soup:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 46 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • dash ground cloves
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving


  1. Combine all ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl. Mix well. Shape into 1″ balls and place onto a plate or baking sheet. Refrigerate.
  2. Meanwhile, het the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute a few minutes until beginning to soften.
  3. Add potato, chicken stock, bay leaf, oregano and cloves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Carefully add meatballs and cabbage. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender and rice is cooked.
  5. Serve with garnish of fresh herbs and lime wedges for squeezing!


** If your meatballs are previously frozen, add them when you add the chicken stock. Cover, bring to boil, then add cabbage, calabaza and continue simmering as directed.


  • Calories: 246
  • Fat: 8
  • Carbohydrates: 23
  • Protein: 21

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  1. 2pots2cook on May 5, 2017 at 6:26 am

    The ingredients promise to have a fiesta ! Thank you so much !

  2. Bill on May 13, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I just finished putting this together. Minus the cloves..smells pretty good in here right now.

    • Hilah on July 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      I bet it does!

  3. Maddy on August 30, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Can’t wait to make this!!
    Comfort food is the best!
    I’m new to your site;….. excited to try ur recipes.

    • Hilah on August 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks, Maddy! Welcome! 🙂

  4. Fawn on December 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    This was DELICIOUS. The cloves gave the broth wonderful flavor, everyone licked their bowls

    • Hilah on December 5, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Yay! Thank you! Reminds me I should make this again, too, Fawn. 🙂

  5. Tawnya M Silvey on March 9, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you so much for having this recipe. I haven’t had this in years. My kids are excited to try it !

  6. Fran knutson on January 7, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    I just tasted this soup I made it to take to friend’s for dinner tomorrow. I made it with venison since I have a lot of it and it is less fatty then beef. Very happy with this recipe. I remember this soup from living in California always loved it.

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