Albondigas Soup, aka Mexican Meatball Soup or Sopa de Albondigas. This soup features a delicious broth, lots of veggies, and tender pork meatballs with BIG flavor. It’s an easy all-in-one meal everyone will love! 

brothy vegetable soup with meatballs in a white bowl with lime wedges set around

Albondigas soup, aka Mexican meatball soup, is the ultimate Sunday night dinner. Three things I love about this soup recipe: requires little prep time, has BIG flavor, and is an all-in-one meal. A brief simmer infuses the broth with flavor, cooks the meatballs, and gets your appetit grumbling. 

The light tomatoey broth is flavored with onion, garlic, tomato paste, oregano and cumin. Then tender pork meatballs (albondigas), featuring tons of fresh herbs, are cooked right in the simmering soup. Mixed with dry white rice, the albondigas come out tender and moist. *chefs kiss, these are incredible!

What does “albóndigas” mean?

Albóndigas is the mexican work for meatballs. Most often, albóndigas refers to the popular Mexican and Spanish dish featuring spicy meatball in a tomato sauce. The meatballs often consist of a both beef and pork, and traditionally feature rice, which keeps them nice and tender. Some recipes use bread instead of rice, but I love the texture rice adds.

Sopade albóndigas or Sopa de Albóndigas is a beef-broth soup featuring chopped vegetables and tender meatballs.

brothy vegetable soup with meatballs in a white bowl with lime wedges set around

Ingredients needed for albóndigas soup:

For the Mexican meatballs, you’ll need:

  • ground pork: Depending on how fatty your pork is, you may need to skim some grease off the top of the soup before serving. I use 85% lean ground pork for this soup.
  • dry long grain white rice
  • fresh mint
  • fresh parsley 
  • dried oregano: preferably dried Mexican oregano, I get mine at my local Mexican market
  • garlic
  • egg
diced zucchini, onion, canned tomatoes, olive oil, spices, tomato paste, and a bowl with meatball ingredients set out on a table

For the soup, you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • white onion
  • garlic cloves
  • tomato paste: some recipes use canned tomato sauce instead. You can add a small can of tomato sauce to this soup is you want it less brothy and more tomato-based.
  • dried oregano: preferably dried Mexican oregano, I get mine at my local Mexican market
  • ground cumin
  • carrots
  • low-sodium beef broth or chicken broth (beef is classic)
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • zucchini
  • fresh cilantro: if you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute with parsley
  • Optional toppings: avocado, jalapeño, lime

How to make albóndigas soup (step-by-step photos)

step by step process shots showing how make a tomato-based vegetable soup
gallery of two images showing a sheet pan with raw meatballs and meatballs being dropped into a soup

How to make albóndigas soup:

  1. Prep the meatballs by combining the pork, rice, herbs, garlic, and egg. Form into 1-inch meatballs and arrange on a baking sheet.
  2. Move on to making the soup. Cook the onion in oil until it’s starting to soften. Add the tomato paste, garlic, oregano and cumin and cook a couple of minutes. 
  3. Stir in the carrots, then add the water, broth and tomatoes.
  4. Add the meatballs and simmer, covered, until cooked through. 
  5. Add the zucchini and simmer until tender. 
  6. Off heat, stir in the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
brothy vegetable soup with meatballs in a white bowl with lime wedges set around

Tips for making the best sopa de albóndigas:

  1. use lean ground meat: I recommend using ground pork, but ground beef or turkey will also work. It’s best to use a lean ground meat for this soup, otherwise you may need to skim grease off the surface before serving. Use a moderately lean ground meat like 85%, avoid anything super lean such as 97%.
  2. use fresh herbs: between the meatballs and the soup, this recipe uses three different types of fresh herbs. That may seem like a lot, but they each add something different to the soup.
    If you want to cut back on an herb, skip the parsley in the meatballs and replace it with some cilantro (we’re also adding cilantro to the soup). And if you’re not a cilantro fan, use parsley in the soup instead.
    Be sure to store any leftover herbs properly so you don’t waste them!
  3. use Mexican oregano: It may seem unnecessary, but Mexican oregano has a very different flavor than mediterranean oregano. “Regular” or mediterranean oregano has a slight minty undertone whereas Mexican oregano is more earthy and cirtusy. Marjoram is a closer substitute for Mexican oregano than “regular” oregano is.
    I get Mexican oregano at my local Mexican market, but you can also find it on Amazon. Then again, if all you have is “regular” oregano, go ahead and use that. It certainly won’t make or break this recipe.

Variations: 

  • Use lean ground beef or ground turkey in place of the pork. 
  • Use a combination of ground beef, pork, and/or turkey.
  • Add chorizo to the meatballs. 
  • Add green beans or peas instead of (or in addition to) the zucchini.
  • Use chopped green cabbage instead of the zucchini.
  • For a more tomato-y broth, decrease the tomato paste and add some tomato sauce.
  • Serve with toasted corn tortillas to tortilla chips.
  • Make the meatballs without rice and use 2 pieces of sandwich bread instead.
brothy vegetable soup with meatballs in a white bowl with lime wedges set around

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If you give this Sopa de Albóndigas recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!

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brothy vegetable soup with meatballs in a white bowl with lime wedges set around

Albóndigas Soup (Sopa de Albóndigas)

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 ¼ hours
  • Yield: 6 servings (13 cups) 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

A tomato-infused broth is the base for this savory soup featuring tender, herby pork meatballs and tons of chunky vegetables. 


Ingredients

Scale

For the meatballs 

  • 1 pound 85% lean ground pork
  • ⅓ cup dry long grain white rice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint* 
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 large carrots, cut into ½-inch slices 
  • 8 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ¾1-inch chunks 
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Optional toppings: avocado, jalapeño, lime

Instructions

For the meatballs: 

Combine pork, rice, mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using moist hands, form into 1-inch meatballs, about 1 tablespoons each. Transfer to a sheet pan and set aside. 

For the soup: 

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes; season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and cumin; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until a fond forms on the bottom of the pot. 

Add carrots and stir to coat. Deglaze with 2 cups water, scraping up browned bits. Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium and simmer 5 minutes. 

Gently drop meatballs into soup one at a time, cover and let simmer 20 minutes. Gently stir in zucchini and continue to cook, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, rice in meatballs is tender, and zucchini is fork-tender, 5–10 minutes more. 

Off heat, stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lime wedges.

 



Notes

This soup is gluten-free and dairy-free. 

MINT: make sure the fresh mint you use is spearmint


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: ⅙ of the recipe
  • Calories: 268
  • Sugar: 4.5g
  • Sodium: 1250mg
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Cholesterol: 87mg

Keywords: albondigas soup, sopa de albondigas, mexican meatball soup

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. SO. GOOD. Better than any Mexican soup I’ve ever had at a restaurant… can’t believe such simple ingredients made such a flavourful and memorable dish.

    1. Hi Angie!

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this soup! It’s absolutely one of my favorites—a great weeknight dinner!

  2. One of my childhood memories is eating albondigas soup with my mom. It was her favorite soup. I made this today and it brought back all those warm memories and your recipe is the best albondigas I have ever made or eaten. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Mark,

      I’m so glad this recipe brought back those wonderful childhood memories—the beauty of food!