Albondigas Soup

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. 

Albondigas Soup - a classic Mexican meatball soup | #healthy #dinner #recipe #glutenfree #cincodemayo

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 - a classic Mexican meatball soup | #healthy #dinner #recipe #glutenfree #cincodemayo

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.


Albondigas Soup - a classic Mexican meatball soup | #healthy #dinner #recipe #glutenfree #cincodemayo

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!

Albondigas Soup - a classic Mexican meatball soup | #healthy #dinner #recipe #glutenfree #cincodemayo

Albondigas Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Author: Julia


For the Turkey Meatballs:

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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!).
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside.

Prepare the soup:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Serve soup with cooked rice and a dollop of sour cream.

Recipe Notes

*You can also use 1 pound of ground beef, or a combination of ground beef, ground pork, or sausage


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  1. Sarah

    #ballshot lol! Only you could get away with that on a food blog. 😉

    I’ve never even heard of albondigas soup but I can’t definitely see the appeal. The herbed balls steal the show. Would you hate me if I veganized this recipe and made it with bean balls? I know that might be a total insult but you’ve got me craving a bowl for realz.

  2. AZ@...And a Dash of Cinnamon

    I’ve never heard of this soup before, but I love meatballs…and I love soup with zucchini in it. Therefore, this soup must be awesome. I might just have to try making it especially since I have both zucchini…annnnddd just a few more of my meatballs left in the freezer. Sounds like a win to me

  3. anouk

    this looks great! do you have any suggestions for replacing the tomato sauce due to a tomato allergy.

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi there! You can omit the tomato sauce…the flavor of the soup doesn’t turn out overly tomato-y, so I don’t think you’ll miss it at all. 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. marcie

    You’ve made laugh out loud a few times, Julia, and now I have Free Fallin’ in my head with your great lyrics. 🙂 I’ve never had albondigas and I have no idea why! Wish I had a big bowl of it for my Cinco de Mayo — I better get cookin’!

  5. Don Crowder AKA @eldergeek

    I’m making this now (mainly because I had a pound of ground turkey and this recipe made me remember it). Used dried mint leaves (because they’re what I have) and Mexican oregano in the meatballs. Also added about a cup of cooked brown Jasmine rice to the meatballs and rolled them small (under an inch in diameter). Looking real good. I have 6 cups of homemade chicken stock thawing on a burner and will start tossing in the veggies soon. As I was cooking the meatballs there was a knock on my door. It was a neighbor who handed me a heavy bag filled with fresh squash from her garden. I was going to text my wife to bring home some squash on her way home from work. Don’t you just love serendipity? 🙂

    1. Julia Post author

      Haha! What impeccable timing your neighbor has! Sounds like the whole recipe is coming together swimmingly. I’m loving the rice and Mexican oregano additions to the meatballs – sounds like they’re going to turn out fabulously! I hope you and your family enjoy the soup and thanks so much for the note! Have a great weekend, Don!

  6. Don Crowder AKA @eldergeek

    It was ready when she got home. I tasted it and decided it needed a little extra something so I added a tablespoon of Comino, another of dried mint and a couple of tablespoons of (gluten free) soy sauce. It was a huge hit. Thank you for pushing our “new food” button. 🙂 This one is a keeper.


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