Albondigas Soup with Cilantro Pesto

  • Active Time 30m
  • Total Time 1h 15m
  • Rating ****

Serves 8

Taking its name from the word for the meatballs that float in its rich broth, this great one-dish meal is arguably the national soup of Mexico. Make a big pot for a casual party, keeping it warm on the stove top. Adding the cilantro pesto to each serving produces a wonderfully fresh taste.


  • 3/4 cup short-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Cilantro Pesto
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 fresh mint sprig, stemmed and chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Place the rice in a heatproof bowl. Bring the water to a boil, and pour it over the rice. Let soak for 40 minutes, then drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add 1 of the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, combine the pork, beef, cooled onion, soaked rice, egg, cumin, oregano, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Using your hands, mix well and form into 1-inch balls.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add the remaining onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, carrots and tomatoes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, stir well and bring to a boil. Carefully slip the meatballs into the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the meatballs are fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

While the soup simmers, make the cilantro pesto: In a mini food processor or a blender, combine the cilantro, mint, lime juice, olive oil, water and salt. Process to a paste.

Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and top each serving with a dollop of cilantro pesto. Serve at once.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 2196

nutrition information per serving

347 calories; 20g total fat; 57mg cholesterol; 766mg sodium; 23g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 18g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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