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Farmer’s Table: Mexican Meatball Soup


By Susan Maslowski

This has been a great summer for growing tomatoes. They have been big, beautiful and tasty.

One of my heirloom varieties has produced one-pound fruits, which are perfect for this recipe calling for a pound of fresh tomatoes.

In Spanish, this fragrant, spicy tomato meatball soup is called Caldo de Albondigas. It is a widely known and revered comfort food in Mexico. Hearts are said to have been healed by a bowl of this delicious, aromatic soup.

Caldo de Albondigas originated as a Berber or Arab soup that was introduced to Spain during the Islamic rule in what is now Southwestern Europe or the Iberian Peninsula. After the Spanish reclaimed the area, Arabic culinary traditions were adopted and modified.

Conquistadors introduced Caldo de Albondigas to the New World.

The word “albondigas” comes from Arabic translation. The “al” translates to “el” in Spanish (“the” in English) and “bunduq” means “hazelnut.” It is thought to denote the size of the tiny meatballs in the soup.

There are many variations of the dish, and, I must admit, I tweaked this recipe to suit my own tastes.

Mexican Meatball Soup

For the Tomato Broth:

1 pound fresh tomatoes

¼ medium white onion, quartered

1 large garlic clove

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

4 cups chicken broth

½ cup chopped cilantro

Salt to taste

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground beef

¼ cup garlic bread crumbs

¼ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon ground pepper

Salt to taste

Tortilla strips and cilantro for garnish (optional)

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Place the tomatoes, onion and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Once roasted, put vegetables in a blender and process until the sauce is smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Gently pour the sauce in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder and chicken broth.

When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat to simmer.

Prepare meatballs. In a small bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, garlic and salt and pepper. Gently mix the meat mixture with a wooden spoon. Do not overmix or the meatballs will be hard.

Form the meat into small balls. Carefully drop the meatballs into the simmering tomato broth.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Just before serving, add chopped cilantro and season with more salt, if necessary.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at or go to our websites at and Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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