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Sopa de Albondigas – Mexican Spicy Meatballs Soup

In Spain and Latin America, meatballs are called albóndigas, derived from the Arabic al-bunduq (meaning hazelnut, or, by extension, a small round object). Albóndigas are thought to have originated as a Berber or Arab dish imported to Spain during the period of Muslim rule. Spanish albóndigas can be served as an appetiser or main course, often in a tomato sauce, while Mexican albóndigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables.

Sopa de Albondigas - Mexican Spicy Meatballs Soup
Spanish albóndigas can be served as an appetiser or main course, often in a tomato sauce, while Mexican albóndigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables.
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
For the spicy meatballs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 225 g pork mince
  • 225 g lean beef mince
  • 50 g fresh breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • oil, for frying
For the sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 chipotle chillies, seeded and chopped - or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 litres beef stock
  • 440 g can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander, or to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  • 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Soak the chipotles in a little warm water for 15 minutes while you prepare the meatballs.
For the meatballs
  1. Combine the onion, pork and beef in a mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Roll the mixture into balls about 4cm in diameter.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the meatballs and fry for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned. Set aside.
For the soup
  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until tender but not browned.
  2. Add the chipotles & garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, about 2 minutes more. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cooked meatballs. Simmer, covered, about 1 hour or until soup is infused with meaty flavour. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped coriander.
  4. Divide cooked rice among the bowls then top with a handful of baby spinach. Ladle soup over the spinach.
  5. Serve hot garnished with extra coriander, a wedge of lime, tortillas or bolillos.
Notes
To freeze the raw meatballs, lay them on a baking sheet lined with cling film, keeping them well spaced. Freeze, uncovered, until solid, then transfer them to a freezer bag for long-term storage.
To defrost, lay the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with kitchen paper, cover loosely and thaw in the fridge for 3 hours or so.
Chipotle chillies are dried smoked jalapeño chillies with a heat level of about 6. They give all sorts of dishes, from ribs to dips, a great smoky flavour.

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