Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish and this soup originally was introduced to the Spanish world from the Middle East during Islamic rule, around 715, in what is now Southwestern Europe. The name of the stew, albondigas, contradicts its Muslim/Middle Eastern history. The word al is an article in Arabic translating to the in English, and el in Spanish.
The name for the soup is likely some variation of al-bunduq, which means hazelnut, and is functional in use to denote meatball because of the meatball’s original size and shape of the hazelnut. A little more evidences comes in the ingredients. More than likely, earlier recipes used lamb but a couple of ingredients that have not changed over time is the use of rice and mint, as in making dolmas. Imported to Mexico by way of the conquistadors, over time this soup has taken a departure from Muslim version. This is my variation. Enjoy!
Sopa de Albondigas
|my sopa de albondigas|
6 to 8 servings
1/2 cup long white rice
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 quart water
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 pound of green beans, ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 lb ground beef (or combination of 1/2 lb beef and 1/2 lb chorizo)
1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A dash of cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups chopped greens (mustard, spinach or other)
Cover the rice well with boiling water and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes until tender. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño and cook another minute. Add the broth, water and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Add the carrots, green beans, and cover.
Meanwhile, drain the rice thoroughly using a towel to squeeze out the moisture.
In a bowl, mix the rice with the meat. Mix in the mint, salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin. Form mixture into 1/2 to 1-inch balls.
Add the meatballs to the soup, one at a time and cover. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the chopped greens, stir and let set on low another 15 minutes.
Note: Cook this to your preference by adding chopped cilantro, parsley or oregano. Add varying vegetables like zucchini, chopped tomatoes, corn or even pinto beans. Spice it up with more peppers or minced chipotles. Add what you like, after all, the recipe has changed so much over the years, it might as well be to your liking,