Caldo de Albóndigas is a traditional Mexican meatball soup made with veggies, like carrots and potatoes, and delicious meatballs simmered in a flavorful broth. This ultimate comfort food is amazing served over red rice or by itself with a little lime juice and salsa.
This Mexican Meatball Soup is one of my favorite soups. I learned to make this soup from my mom and she learned to make it from her mom.
This is one of the first things my mom learned to make as a newlywed. At first, she couldn't get it quite right until my grandmother helped her make it step by step. That's because, like I'm sure is true for some of your mothers or grandmothers, the measurements consisted of "a little of this," "a dash of that," and "about this much."
Since my mom learned to cook this way, I am so grateful to her for helping me measure the ingredients for her recipes. This has allowed me to better replicate recipes like this one and now also share them with you.
What is Mexican Meatball Soup?
In Mexico, this soup is referred to as caldo de albóndigas or albóndigas en caldillo. The dish consists of meatballs (sometimes made of beef or pork) in a light broth with various vegetables.
According to travelcurious.com, the term albóndigas is derived from the Arabic word ‘al-bunduq’, meaning hazelnut and generally used to describe a small round object. It is believed that albóndigas were originally a Berber or Arabic speciality that was adopted by the Spanish in the 13th century during their rule of the Iberian Peninsula. They then introduced this dish to the Americas during their conquests.
Eventually, meatballs in Mexico were made into this soup as well as a dish served with chipotle sauce. Click here for Albóndigas in Chipotle Sauce.
Why You'll Love This Albóndigas Soup Recipe
- Simple and Easy: This recipe uses basic, common ingredients and is easy to prepare.
- Healthy and Nutritious: The recipe is loaded with protein and vegetables and can easily be made Whole30 compatible.
- One-Pot: The whole soup easily comes together in one pot.
- Light Yet Filling: You won't feel heavy and weighed down after a bowl, but you will feel satiated.
- Feeds a lot of People: Because of the broth and vegetables, there is always plenty to go around and there's even leftovers.
- Chicken Broth
- Ground Beef
- Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Mexican Meatball Soup
1. Make the Broth
- Blend one large Roma tomato, 2 medium cloves of garlic, ¼ of an onion, and 1 stalk of celery in a blender or food processor.
- In a deep pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the tomato mixture into the pot. Sauté the sauce for about two minutes.
- Pour in 4 cups of water and 4 cups of chicken broth into the pot. Bring to a boil. For added flavor, use only chicken broth without the water.
2. Assemble the Meatballs
- In a large mixing bowl, add a pound of ground beef, a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
- Mix the ingredients and form meatballs about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter (be careful to not overmix the meat).
- Carefully add the meatballs into the boiling broth and let them boil for 10 minutes.
3. Prepare the Soup
- While the meatballs are boiling, dice 2-3 carrots at a diagonal. Dice one large potato into cubes about the same size as the carrots. You can choose to do more carrots and potatoes, just note that the ratio of carrots to potatoes should be the same.
- After the 10 minutes, add the carrots and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then, add the potatoes and ⅓ cup of chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Finally, let everything simmer until the potatoes are cooked through (another 8-10 minutes).
How to Serve Mexican Albóndigas Soup
This authentic albóndigas soup is great served on its own, but here are some suggestions on how to serve it:
- Add a little splash of lime juice to each serving. This really is a must as it compliments the flavors of the soup so well.
- You can also add a little jalapeño salsa or extra spicy serrano salsa
- Serve on top of Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice)
- Accompany the soup with some warm corn tortillas
Storing and Reheating
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat it, add the soup to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until warm, or microwave it in a microwaveable safe bowl until steaming and heated through.
Tips and Variations
- If you prefer more whole vegetables in your soup, don’t blend the celery. Instead dice it and sauté it with the tomato sauce in the second step of the recipe.
- You can also add other vegetables like corn on the cob or Mexican squash (like zucchini or chayote).
- Do not mix the meat too much or else the meatballs will come out tough.
- For a Whole30 option, be sure to use a Whole30 compliant broth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to peel the potatoes?
No, you don't have to. Some people (my kids for example) don't like the texture of the potato skin, but if you don't mind it go ahead and leave it on.
Can I use vegetable broth or beef broth instead?
I like the flavor that the chicken broth gives the soup as it more closely resembles the flavor of my mom's recipe which used chicken bouillon, but you can definitely use vegetable or beef broth if that's what you have on hand.
Should I add rice when forming the meatballs?
Although some people mix rice into the actual meatballs, our recipe does not include rice. Instead, a great way to serve the soup once finished is over Mexican red rice. This adds great texture, delicious flavor and makes the soup more hearty.
Can I add other vegetables to the soup?
My family only ever adds potatoes and carrots, but I have seen people add all sorts of vegetables from corn on the cob, to Mexican squash, to green beans, and even peas.
I hope you enjoy!
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU MAKE THIS OR TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM @EVERYDAYLATINA.
More Mexican Soup Recipes
- Sopa de Verduras (Mexican Vegetable Soup)
- Calabacitas con Queso
- Frijoles Charros (Mexican Charro Beans)
- Slow Cooker Menudo
Caldo de Albóndigas
- Large pot
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes (or 1 large)
- 2 medium cloves of garlic
- ¼ white onion
- 1 stalk celery (see recipe)
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 carrots, diced at a diagonal (see notes)
- 1 potato, cubed (see notes)
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blend the tomato, garlic, onion, and celery in a blender or food processor. If you prefer more whole vegetables in your soup, don’t blend the celery. Instead dice it and sauté it with the tomato sauce in the following step.
- In a deep pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. (Sauté the diced celery here if using). Pour the tomato sauce mixture into the pot. Sauté the sauce for about two minutes.
- Pour in 4 cups of water and 4 cups of chicken broth into the pot. Bring to a boil. For added flavor, use 8 cups of chicken broth and no water.
- With your hands mix the ground beef, with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Being careful not to overmix the ground beef, form meatballs about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. Drop them into the boiling broth and let them boil for 10 minutes.
- After the 10 minutes, add the carrots and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then, add the potatoes and the chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let everything simmer a little longer until the potatoes are cooked through (another 8-10 minutes).
- You can choose to do more carrots and potatoes, just note that the ratio of carrots to potatoes should be the same.
- For a Whole30 option, use a Whole30 compatible broth.
- If you are not on Whole30, this soup goes great over Mexican Red Rice and accompanied by warm corn tortillas. Either way, I recommend topping it off with a little lime juice and this Jalapeño Salsa.
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Originally published September 22, 2018. Updated post September 2022.