This easy and hearty Albóndigas Soup, or Mexican meatball soup, is an incredibly rich and delicious dinner your family will love! Make a soup that is ridiculously tasty, loaded with a rich tomato and beef broth, plenty of my delicious albóndigas, and tons of colorful vegetables that combine into the best soup ever!
Make this classic Mexican comfort food soup a regular weeknight dinner!
My albóndigas soup (known in Spanish as Caldo de Albóndigas, or Albóndigas en Caldillo) is an amazingly tasty Mexican-inspired soup that uses delicious ground beef and rice meatballs as the base. It has fresh flavors and warm spices to make a soup recipe that truly warms the soul. It’s perfect for a chilly night – or really any night!
This soup uses my recipe for albondigas – but if you happen to have your own, you can use that! Mexican meatballs are uniquely flavored with cumin and oregano to make them amazingly tasty. The meatballs are easy to make and can be used in a variety of ways – including this soup!
You can have this delicious albondigas soup made from start to finish (including the albóndigas) in just 1 hour, but it’ll taste like it’s been simmering all day! If you make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze, you can whip up this delicious albóndigas soup anytime the craving hits.
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
It’s Unique! Albondigas soup is a delectable, unique soup that is packed full of unexpected flavor that makes your taste buds sing.
It’s Easy! Soups can easily feel demanding, but this straightforward recipe is not only simple to make, but it gets on your table fast!
It’s Healthy! This soup is hearty – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t healthy! There are tons of veggies, and the broth is rich, but light to make a meal that’s as packed with nutrition as it is flavor.
This delightful soup calls for 1 batch of my albondigas. It also calls for an uncommon ingredient – safflower. This is alternative to saffron gives a beautiful, rich color and subtle flavor, but if you’re unable to find it, you can skip it!
- Albóndigas – Flavorful Mexican beef and rice meatballs that are the star of this soup! Hearty, meaty, and full of flavor!
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the preferred oil here for its unmistakable quality and flavor.
- Onion – You can use white or yellow onion – your preference! You’ll want to dice the onion for this recipe.
- Carrots – Sliced carrots add vibrant color and a subtle sweetness to the soup, as well as lots of vitamins!
- Garlic – Mince or crush your own or buy pre-minced.
- Beef Broth – You can use your favorite store-bought or homemade beef broth for this. It can be substituted for chicken broth if you have that on hand, but beef broth gives extra richness and flavor.
- Russet Potatoes – You’ll want to dice these into small pieces. The potatoes will add extra heartiness and help thicken the soup slightly.
- Diced Tomatoes – I prefer canned, fire-roasted tomatoes for this soup for a slight smokiness. Don’t drain the tomatoes – the juices will go into our broth!
- Tomato Sauce – Canned tomato sauce will also add a delicious tomato flavor to the broth.
- Cumin – Adds a delicious, savory, and classic Mexican flavor to the soup.
- Dried Oregano – Use Mexican oregano if you can find it, but regular oregano works just as well!
- Coriander – Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and has a special, unique flavor! You won’t want to skip this.
- Safflower – Safflower (Mexican Saffron) is optional but gives a beautiful orange-red color and subtle flavor. (See Tips & Recipe Notes)
- Zucchini – Sliced zucchini lightens up the dish, while adding that beautiful green color.
- Salt & Pepper – Who can cook without salt & pepper? Add according to your taste.
- Cilantro – Garnish the soup with cilantro for an incredible, fresh flavor.
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
Safflower gives the dish a wonderful color and adds a light, floral note to the dish.
Look for safflower in the Mexican spice section of your grocery, a Mexican grocery store, or online. You can also substitute saffron or skip it!
Albóndigas are the best part of this dish and shouldn’t be substituted.
These Mexican meatballs are similar to Italian-style meatballs in how they’re made, but the flavor is different. I highly recommend taking the time to make them instead of buying regular frozen meatballs!
If you follow my recipe, it’ll only take 20 minutes! It’s so worth the delicious flavor!
Dip warmed, rolled corn tortillas in the soup for a classic accompaniment.
You can also serve with your favorite crusty bread, or dish it up on its own! No matter what you pick, it’ll be delicious!
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
This hearty Mexican meatball soup is a warm and incredibly delicious dinner your family will be craving all year long! Make my albóndigas ahead of time to make this easy soup come together even more quickly!
Make the Meatballs
- Make the albóndigas. Follow the albondigas instructions to combine your meatball ingredients. Either bake or pan-fry the meatballs. If you bake, your soup can be simmering while the meatballs are cooking. My recipe will yield 1 batch of albóndigas, or about 24-30 meatballs, depending on size.
Make the Soup.
- Prep veggies. Dice one medium onion, so that you have about ½ cup of onion. Next, wash and slice 3 medium or 2 large carrots and mince or crush 1 clove of garlic – enough to make 1 teaspoon. Then, wash, halve lengthwise, and slice 1 zucchini and wash and dice 2 small russet potatoes. Set the zucchini and potatoes aside for later.
- Sauté onion, carrots, and garlic. Bring a large pot with ½ tablespoon of olive oil to medium heat, then add ½ cup of onion and sliced carrots. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until softened (or longer if your family like them super tender). Add 1 teaspoon of minced or crushed garlic and stir for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.
- Simmer the soup. Add 6 cups of beef broth, the diced russet potatoes, 14.5 ounces of diced tomatoes, 8 ounces of tomato sauce, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander, and the optional ¼ teaspoon of safflower petals. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, if necessary, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the albondigas. Place the cooked meatballs into your simmering soup, then simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Be sure to stir very gently so you don’t break up the meatballs.
- Add zucchini & season. Stir in the sliced zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Chop a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish.
- Serve! Ladle out 4-5 meatballs per serving and top with fresh, chopped cilantro. Enjoy!
I love to serve this easy, hearty soup for dinner as is, with a few wedges of lime for some extra brightness! You can also serve this meatball soup with extra steamed rice, warmed flour tortillas, or crusty rustic bread to soak up all that aromatic broth.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Your incredible albondigas soup is even better the next day! Store the cooled soup in an airtight container and it’ll last 3-5 days in the fridge.
This soup is perfect to save for a chilly night when you want some extra warmth! To freeze, store the cooled soup in an airtight container or airtight plastic freezer bag. It’ll keep for 4-6 months.
This soup reheats easily on the stove or in the microwave! On the stove-top, bring your desired portion to a boil in a pot and then lower the heat and let it simmer gently until it’s bubbling or reached a temperature of 165°F (73°C).
In the microwave, cover the soup with a paper towel or kitchen cloth and microwave at 1-minute intervals, stirring between, until the soup is hot or reached a temperature of 165°F (73°C).
If defrosting frozen soup, it’s best to take it out the night before and let it defrost in your refrigerator overnight for a safe thaw.
Check out my easy Albóndigas recipe for more suggestions on what to make with these incredible Mexican meatballs. They’re amazing on their own, in sandwiches, or even in tacos!
Yes! Beef is traditional, but you can use pork, turkey, or chicken to make your meatballs. Keep in mind that with leaner meats like turkey and chicken, the meatballs might not be as juicy due to the lower fat content.
Cilantro and lime are must-haves in my opinion, but you can try adding sour cream or Mexican crema, sliced avocado, Pico de Gallo, or even your favorite Mexican hot sauce for a bit of spice!
For The Soup
- ½ tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
- ½ cup onion (white or yellow onion, diced - about 1 medium onion)
- 3 medium carrots (or 2 large carrots, washed and sliced)
- 1 teaspoon garlic (minced or crushed)
- 6 cups beef broth
- 2 small russet potatoes (washed and diced into small ½-inch pieces)
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (do not drain, I prefer the fire-roasted tomatoes for this soup)
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon safflower (optional)
- 1 zucchini (washed, halved lengthwise, and sliced)
- each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup cilantro (chopped)
Make the Meatballs
- Follow the albondigas instructions to combine your meatball ingredients and either bake or pan-fry the meatballs. If you form the meatballs and bake them, your soup can be simmering while the meatballs are cooking.1 albondigas
Make the Soup
- Bring a large pot with olive oil to medium heat, then add the onion and carrot. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onion is opaque (or longer if your family likes the onions and carrots super tender). Add the minced or crushed garlic, stir it into the onions and carrots, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.½ tablespoon olive oil, ½ cup onion, 3 medium carrots, 1 teaspoon garlic
- Add the beef broth, diced potatoes, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, ground cumin, oregano, ground coriander, and optional safflower petals. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat if necessary and simmer for 10 minutes.6 cups beef broth, 2 small russet potatoes, 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, 8 oz tomato sauce, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon safflower
- Place cooked albondigas into the simmering soup base, then continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Stir in the sliced zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.1 zucchini, each, salt & pepper
- Serve by ladling out 4-5 meatballs per soup serving and top with fresh, chopped cilantro.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!