The Melting Pot



Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Editor

Every country has their version of the meatball, Mexico is no different. Sopa de Albondigas is a traditional soup eaten during the fall and winter months, [“albondigas” translates to “meatballs” in Spanish] although it can be consumed any time of the year. Albondigas are considered a staple dish in my family; it’s a great way to feed a lot of people at once. It truly is Mexican “soul food.”

Brought to Mexico by the Spanish, Albondigas are said to come from the Berbers or the Arabs during Muslim rule (711-1472 A.D.).  The term albondigas derives the Arabic al-bunduq, which means “hazelnut” or “small round object.”  As a result of its Middle Eastern origins, lamb, rice, and mints were the key ingredients used. In Spain, a combination of beef, ham, and chicken were used to make the meatballs. Within Mexico, turkey, chicken, beef, or chorizo is used. Depending on the region you are in, different ingredients are used to accompany the soup; for example, we eat albondigas with tortillas. Using fall vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and chayote adds depth and heartiness to soup as well.



2 lbs. of ground turkey

1 cup rice, soaked for 1 hour

3 tomatoes, finely diced

½ a large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1-2 eggs

Season with salt and pepper


2 jalapeños

2 tbsp. oil

3-4 tomatoes, chopped

½ a large onion

1-2 tbsp. of chicken granulated bouillon (I used Knorr; cubed bouillon works as well, substitute tbsps. with cubes.)

3 cups water (more will be used as cooking process continues)

Soup Vegetables

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks

2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped in chunks

2 zucchinis, chopped in chunks

2 chayote squash, peeled and chopped in chunks (when chayote is peeled, flesh becomes sticky so be sure to rinse well before and after chopping)

Instructions (Cook time: about 1 hour)

  1. For albondigas, break up turkey into smaller pieces in a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse soaked rice in fine mesh colander then add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
  2. Use clean hands or spoons to form 1-inch balls with meat mixture. [Mixture should yield about 30-40 meatballs.] You can place formed balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet or a large plate. Let albondigas set for a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place a large pot on stovetop and heat on medium. Heat oil in pot. Add jalapeños to oil and fry until they blister. Take jalapeños out and set aside.
  4. Blend tomatoes, onions, bouillon, and water in blender. Pour mixture in heated pot. [Be careful, it will sizzle.] Add an additional 3-4 quarts of water to the pot.
  5. Once broth boils, add meatballs.
  6. After about 30 minutes, check to see if rice has opened. When rice blooms, add potatoes and chayote. [These take the longest to cook.] Add carrots and jalapeños about 5 minutes later. After 10 minutes, add zucchini.
  7. Let soup simmer for about 15 more minutes. Take out meatball and potato to see if cooked through.
  8. Once fully cooked, turn off heat and serve.