Turkey Albondigas Soup – a slight spin on the classic Mexican dish, perfect for sharing with friends on Cinco de Mayo.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
The Cincos of the Mayos always put a uuuuge smile on my face. Rain or shine. In sickness and in health. No bad Cincos. Keep Calm & Cinco On. It’s a beautiful day in the Cincohood. I’ll stop.
And I’m meeeeeeeeeeat….meatballiiiiin (<-sang like Free Fallin’….because Tom Petty loves meatballs, too. <- just roll with it).
^^^Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.
As mentioned in broken record-like fashion over the last two weeks, I’m a sucker for all zuh Mexican foods. I thought it would be fitting to share one of my all time favorite Mexican classics with your head hole today: Albondigas Soup. Have you had it? MYLANTA, you MUST! It’s a traditional Mexican meatball soup with herbed balls o’ meat (typically of the beef varietal) cooked in chicken broth with fresh veggies, and sometimes rice. And it makes you sing the meatballin’ song like no one’s listening. It’s just that powerful.
Albondigas soup and I have had a strong relationship dating back to circa 2000. I first discovered it at a local Mexican food restaurant in my sleepy little hometown and was instantly obsessed. I took my obsession to college with me, where my albondigas soup radar found me THE BEST bowl of meatball at one of the cafeterias at U of A. To say I was a frequenter of the vat of balls is an understatement.
My best friend who I met that first semester is Salvadoran, and she got a kick out of my unyielding fixation on the soup. It was SO greasy, SO meaty, SO filling and satisfying. With a side of puffy cinnamon and sugar sopapillas, to balance the salty soup with a sweet treat…I’m mentally planning a trip to Arizona JUST to see if they still make it on campus.
Moving right along to this particular albondiga. We need to chat about the balls.
While traditional albondigas soup is made with ground beef (and sometimes pork or suasage or a combo thereof), I went the ground turkey route this time around. Should you follow suit and use ground turkey, I implore you to NOT use lean ground turkey breast, as the meatballs won’t be as flavorful, and they may even just fall right apart. #ballfail. The ground turkey I used is a combo of breast and thigh meat and has a higher fat content, making for most excellent meatballs. I also added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the ball mixture to make sure there was enough fat to keep them nice and succulent. You guys…sluuuuurp!
One of the amazingest parts about this soup to me is how much flavor comes out of so few ingredients. While you can slow cook the crap out of this soup for eeons, it’s not even necessary. From start to finish, the process took me about 45 minutes, and I was taking my sweet time.
For serving, I dolloped on some sour cream, which you can see in the photos (just kidding, you can’t…I creamed after the photos). You can also add rice to the soup to make it more substantial, or even add leftover cooked rice.
And that’s it. Make this as an appetizer or side dish to serve many, or as an entree to serve a few. Have a marvelous Cinco de Mayo, and may your day be filled with tacos and balls <- Sorry. NOT!
For the Turkey Meatballs:
- 1 large egg well beaten
- 1 lb ground turkey * high fat blend recommended
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch ground cinnamon optional
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Soup:
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium zucchini squash chopped
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
Prepare the Turkey Meatballs:
Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs to a mixing bowl and stir to combine (I like using my hands to moosh everything together so that it gets super well combined).
Preheat a large cast iron skillet to medium and add enough oil to generously coat the surface, about 3 tablespoons. Form meatballs out of the mixture and place them on a plate until the skillet is completely hot (the meatballs will be super moist and may seem like they won’t hold together, but they will!).
Place the meatballs on the hot skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until browned on one side. Carefully flip and cook on the other side until browned (but not cooked through), about 1 minute.
Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
Prepare the soup:
Heat the olive oil to medium-high in a large pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute, stirring occasionally, until veggies have softened and onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for 1 minute.
Add the meatballs, chicken stock, tomato sauce, and parsley. Cover, and bring to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until zucchini is soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes (Note: you can keep the soup at a very low temperature on the stove while you’re preparing other food for guests).
Serve soup with cooked rice and a dollop of sour cream.