5 from 6 votes
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Albondigas Mexican Meatball Soup Recipe

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Ready to try Mexican Meatball Soup, a traditional Mexican soup delicacy that’s packed with hearty meatballs, vibrant vegetables, and a savory broth? This dish is a favorite in Mexican cuisine, known for its depth of flavors and the comforting warmth it brings with every spoonful. 

Meatball soup with slices of potatoes, carrots, and zucchini.

Whether it’s a chilly day or you’re just in the mood for a satisfying meal, this traditional Mexican Meatball Soup is sure to hit the spot. Let’s dive into its preparation, variations, and storage tips to help you master this delicious family favorite recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe…

  • Hearty Soup: Mexican Meatball Soup, also known as Albondigas, is a traditional Mexican dish packed with flavorful meatballs and vibrant vegetables. It is a comforting, nutritious, hearty soup that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
  • Easy to make: The preparation of this soup is as engaging as its rich flavors. The succulent tender meatballs are prepared with a blend of ground beef and rice, then simmered in a flavorful tomato broth.
  • One pot meal: Not only is the Albondigas Soup recipe a crowd-pleaser, but it is also a one-pot meal. This makes it an ideal choice for those busy weeknights.
  • Less than 60 minutes to make: Despite its complex and delicious flavors, the soup can be prepared in less than 60 minutes, making it a satisfying meal for any time of the day.

Ingredients For Mexican Meatball Soup

Ingredients for Mexican Meatball Soup sitting on a countertop.

Albondigas Ingredients

  • Ground beef: This forms the primary base of the homemade meatballs, offering a rich and hearty flavor that defines the Mexican Meatball Soup.
  • Onion: It provides a robust foundation for the meatballs, contributing a depth of flavor and a slight crunch.
  • Garlic cloves: These lend a hint of pungency and warmth, necessary to balance the heartiness of the beef.
  • Cooked white rice: An essential ingredient used as a meatball binder, it adds a soft, pleasant texture.
  • Large eggs: Beaten eggs help to bind the meatballs together, ensuring they maintain their shape during cooking.
  • Fresh cilantro OR parsley: It adds a refreshing burst of green and a unique taste to the meatballs. You can use either, depending on preference.
  • Fresh mint leaves: These give a surprising freshness and lightness to the rich meatballs.
  • Ground cumin: A staple in Mexican cooking, cumin provides an earthy, warm flavor that is unmistakable.
  • Chili powder: This adds a mild heat to the meatballs, elevating the flavor and adding a slight kick.
  • Dried oregano: It imparts a subtle hint of sweetness and a touch of bitterness, rounding out the flavors in the meatballs.
  • Salt and pepper: Basic seasonings to enhance other bold flavors and bring balance to the dish.
  • Olive oil: This is used for sautéing the meatballs, ensuring they get a nice, golden brown color on the outside.

Soup Ingredients

  • Large Onion: A staple in most kitchens, onions add a depth of flavor and a sweet, sharp bite to the Mexican Meatball Soup.
  • Garlic Cloves: This aromatic ingredient enhances the savory depth of the soup and pairs well with the spices.
  • Beef Broth: The foundation of the soup, beef broth delivers a robust and hearty flavor.
  • Diced Tomatoes: These add a slight tang and sweetness to the soup, balancing the savory elements.
  • Ground Cumin: A key spice in Mexican cuisine, cumin adds a warm, earthy flavor.
  • Chili Powder: This spice introduces a touch of heat and a smoky, spicy element to the soup.
  • Garlic Powder: Complementing the fresh garlic, garlic powder lends a slightly different, mellow garlic flavor.
  • Cayenne Pepper: An optional ingredient for those who enjoy a spicy kick in their soup.
  • Salt and Pepper: Essential seasonings to bring out the flavors and aromas of the other ingredients.
  • Potatoes: These root vegetables add texture and heartiness to the soup, making it more substantial.
  • Carrots: Carrots bring a subtle sweetness and vibrant color to the soup.
  • Zucchinis: These add a refreshing, light flavor and a crunchy texture to the Mexican Meatball Soup.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Ground Beef: If you are looking for a lean ground beef option, ground turkey or chicken can be used as a substitute for beef in the meatballs. For a vegetarian version, you can use a plant-based meat alternative.
  • White Rice: For a healthier twist, cooked brown rice or quinoa can replace white rice in the meatballs. You can also use bread crumbs if you like.
  • Beef Broth: Chicken broth or vegetable broth can be used as an alternative to beef broth for the soup.
  • Potatoes: If you’re not a fan of potatoes, you can substitute them with other root vegetables like parsnips or turnips.
  • Zucchinis: You can replace zucchinis with summer squash or bell peppers for a different flavor profile.
  • Spices: The spices can be adjusted based on your preference. If you like a spicier soup, add more chili powder or cayenne pepper. For a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili powder and omit the cayenne pepper.

The complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.

How To Make Mexican Meatball Soup

Collage of mixing the ingredients for meatball and cooking it.
  1. Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl. (Photo 1)
  2. Make small meatballs with a 1 ½” scoop and place on a baking sheet. (Photo 2)
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a big pot.
  4. Brown the meatballs in batches. (Photo 3)
  5. Put the juicy meatballs back on the baking sheet. (Photo 4)
Collage of a process of cooking the Mexican Meatball Soup.
  1. If needed, add more olive oil to the pot and saute the onions until soft. 
  2. Add garlic and saute. (Photo 5)
  3. Add beef broth, diced tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, potatoes, and carrots. Salt and pepper as desired. (Photo 7)
  4. Bring the large pot to a boil. 
  5. Add the meatballs, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. (Photos 8 & 9)
Collage of creating Mexican Meatball Soup in a pot.
  1. Add zucchini slices. Let it simmer for 10 more minutes. (Photos 10 & 11)
  2. Garnish with a bit of cilantro before serving. 
  3. Add lemon or lime juice if you want. Enjoy with rice or tortillas.
Mexican Meatball Soup in a big pot.

Recipe Tips 

  • Flavor Enhancement: To enhance the flavor of your soup, consider sautéing the veggies (onions, carrots, zucchini) before adding them to the soup. This technique helps release the natural sugars of the vegetables, adding depth to the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Meatball Consistency: Be careful not to over-mix the meatball mixture. Over-mixing the meat mixture can result in tougher meatballs. Instead, gently combine the ingredients until just mixed.
  • Spice Level: Adjust the heat to your preference. For a spicier soup, add more chili powder or include a diced jalapeño or serrano pepper.
  • Cilantro: For those who aren’t fans of cilantro, fresh parsley makes a great substitute. 
  • Lemon or Lime Juice: Adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice right before serving can enhance the flavors of the soup, offering a refreshing, citrusy balance to the rich ingredients.

Alternate Cooking Methods

  • Instant Pot: The Mexican Meatball Soup can also be prepared using an Instant Pot. To do this, use the ‘Sauté’ mode for browning the meatballs and sautéing the onions and garlic. After adding the remaining ingredients, close the lid, set the pot on ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ mode, and cook for about 10 minutes. After the time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Add the zucchini and cook in the residual heat for about 5 minutes. This method significantly reduces cooking time, delivering a flavorful Mexican Meatball Soup in under an hour.
  • Slow Cooker: Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker for a hands-off approach. After browning the meatballs and sautéing the onions and garlic in a separate pan, transfer everything to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients (except zucchini) and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Add zucchini during the last hour of cooking to ensure it doesn’t get overly soft.

Storing Tips 

Storing leftovers of the Mexican Meatball Soup is incredibly easy. Allow the soup to cool down before transferring it to an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat, simply transfer the desired portion to a pot and heat it over medium heat until hot. 

If you’re planning to store it for longer, this soup is freezer-friendly too! You can freeze it in a freezer-safe container. A great tip is to freeze the soup in individual servings for quick, ready-to-go meals. Just be sure to leave a small amount of space in the container before freezing, as the soup will expand. The soup can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. 

To reheat from frozen, you can either first thaw the soup overnight in the refrigerator and then heat it over medium heat on the stove, or, if you’re in a hurry, you can reheat the soup directly from frozen. Just transfer the frozen soup to a pot and reheat it over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot.

What To Serve With Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican Meatball Soup is a hearty and satiating dish on its own, but pairing it with the right sides can transform it into an unforgettable meal. You can serve it with warm, buttered cornbread to dip into the soup and soak up all its flavorful juices. 

A fresh, crunchy salad with a tangy vinaigrette can provide the perfect contrast to the rich, warm soup. If you prefer sticking to traditional Mexican accompaniments, warm, soft homemade flour tortillas or Mexican rice are excellent choices the whole family will enjoy. 

And don’t forget a wedge of lime on the side – a squeeze of its fresh, tart juice just before eating brings out the flavors of the soup. Finally, a fabulous, creamy dessert, like flan or tres leches cake, would be the perfect end to your meal.

A laddle scopping a Mexican Meatball Soup.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use other types of meat for the meatballs?

Yes! While beef is traditional for this Mexican Meatball Soup recipe, you can certainly use other types of ground meat. Ground chicken, turkey, or pork would all work well. Just bear in mind that different types of meat may alter the overall flavor of the soup.

Can this soup be made vegetarian?

Absolutely. You can replace the beef in the meatballs with a plant-based ground meat substitute. Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth, and ensure any other ingredients you’re using (like bouillon cubes) are vegetarian-friendly. 

Can I add other vegetables to this soup?

Yes, feel free to modify the recipe to suit your tastes. Other vegetables like bell peppers, green beans, or corn would make nice additions. Just remember to adjust the cooking time as needed to ensure all the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

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Mexican Meatball Soup in a white bowl sitting on a wooden table.
5 from 6 votes

Albondigas Mexican Meatball Soup Recipe


Author: Kim Schob
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Ready to try Mexican Meatball Soup, a traditional Mexican soup delicacy that's packed with hearty meatballs, vibrant vegetables, and a savory broth? This dish is a favorite in Mexican cuisine, known for its depth of flavors and the comforting warmth it brings with every spoonful. 

Equipment

Ingredients 

For the meatballs:

  • 1 ½ pounds (680 ⅖ g) ground beef I used 90% lean
  • ½ large onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup (158 g) cooked white rice
  • 2 large eggs beated
  • ½ cup (8 g) fresh cilantro OR parsley stems removed and chopped
  • ½ cup (22 ½ g) fresh mint leaves chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) olive oil

For the soup:

  • ½ large onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 cups (1 3/7 l) beef broth
  • 28 ounce (793 ⅘ g) can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional for a little spice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 potatoes peeled and cubed into 1” pieces
  • 3 carrots sliced into ½” thick pieces
  • 2 medium zucchinis sliced into ½” thick pieces

Instructions

  • Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Make small meatballs with a 1 ½” scoop and place on a baking sheet.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a big pot.
  • Brown the meatballs in batches.
  • Put the juicy meatballs back on the baking sheet.
  • If needed, add more olive oil to the pot and saute the onions until soft.
  • Add garlic and saute.
  • Add beef broth, diced tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, potatoes, and carrots. Salt and pepper as desired.
  • Bring the large pot to a boil.
  • Add the meatballs, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add zucchini slices. Let it simmer for 10 more minutes.
  • Garnish with a little cilantro before serving.
  • Add lemon or lime juice if you want. Enjoy with rice or tortillas.

Notes

  • Flavor Enhancement: To enhance the flavor of your soup, consider sautéing the veggies (onions, carrots, zucchini) before adding them to the soup. This technique helps release the natural sugars of the vegetables, adding depth to the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Meatball Consistency: Be careful not to over-mix the meatball mixture. Over-mixing the meat mixture can result in tougher meatballs. Instead, gently combine the ingredients until just mixed.
  • Spice Level: Adjust the heat to your preference. For a spicier soup, add more chili powder or include a diced jalapeño or serrano pepper.
  • Cilantro: For those who aren’t fans of cilantro, fresh parsley makes a great substitute. 
  • Lemon or Lime Juice: Adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice right before serving can enhance the flavors of the soup, offering a refreshing, citrusy balance to the rich ingredients.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 520kcal (26%) Carbohydrates: 34g (11%) Protein: 29g (58%) Fat: 30g (46%) Saturated Fat: 10g (63%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 135mg (45%) Sodium: 1220mg (53%) Potassium: 1371mg (39%) Fiber: 6g (25%) Sugar: 8g (9%) Vitamin A: 5858IU (117%) Vitamin C: 43mg (52%) Vitamin D: 0.4µg (3%) Calcium: 145mg (15%) Iron: 6mg (33%)

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This soup is so delicious! Its flavors are fantastic, and the meatballs are just superb. It’s the perfect soup for the cold weather!

  2. 5 stars
    I could tell by the ingredient list that this soup was going to be flavorful – and it sure was! I loved it – having leftovers for lunch all week!

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