This past Saturday was the last day of summer, and Minnesota knew it. We spent the eve of autumn enjoying dinner with friends, and roasting tomatoes and chili peppers from their garden to make salsa. A jar of it is coming our way, and I am excited. As we left their house that night you could feel that fall chill creeping in. Tis soup season, folks! I kept my mom up that night making sure she gave me her recipe for albondigas. It's essentially a meatball soup, with lots of veggies and all around goodness.
My mom and I are the same in that we're terrible when it comes to measurements. Not terrible in the "on no you ruined the recipe" way. But more along the lines of "you want my recipe? Well, good luck because I have no idea how much of everything went into it".
I know that I used two pounds of ground beef and two eggs for the meatballs, but the other stuff? No clue. I base a lot of it on smell. If it smells right, then it's right. Bada bing, bada boom.
You see that pretty wooden spoon here? Completely for show. I'm a liar. I used my hands to mix this, and you should too.
Oh, and rice. That should have all been mixed in at the same time. It's under cooked rice, and it's supposed to be like that.
I'm sure there are a million different ways of making this dish, given all the regional and family variations. This is just how I grew up eating it, and you know what? It's yums.
After these meatballs have been plopped into boiling water, turn to the vegetables. I use carrots, zucchini, green beans, celery and potatoes. That acorn squash is just photo bombing. Get out of here acorn squash, I have no idea what to do with you.
Chop those veggies, and get them into a second pot of boiling water. I then chop up three roma tomatoes and about half an onion and a couple of garlic cloves and blend them with a little bit of water. I add that to the pot with the veggies.
And then you add this. I heart this stuff. I use it way too often in excessive amounts. Yuu--uum. How much went in? Don't know. You could probably use chicken broth.
Same with the salt.
These little guys are not necessary, but I love adding them. They are azafran (or zaffron pellets for you gringos, but you're probably hip and will call them azafran). Sometimes known as the poor man's saffron. You can buy them here. Or, if you're lucky like me, you're parents will grow them in their yard and send them to you because they miss you and love you, and want to remind you how good home is and are hoping this gesture will entice you to move back.
They're hard little pellets that you sort of gently tap to crack the shell. You only use the orange stuff inside. I mush them up with a little bit of water in a molcajete, but mine was still at our friends so I used a mortar and pestle.
Beautiful, isn't it?
Add this to the pot with the vegetables. I have two large pots, so this system works for me. You could probably do it with just one.
Once the albondigas are done, it all goes together in the same pot. I use a slotted spoon to move the albondigas to the pot with the veggies Then use a strainer to add all of that left over water to the pot with the veggies. Bring to boil, then simmer. Don't forget to check the salt. You might need to add more at this point. I usually just check how soft the potatoes are to tell when it's done. Season with dried oregano. My family usually adds corn on the cob in the soup, but I forgot it this time. Shame on me.
Serve with a splash of lime and a warm tortilla.
My sweet helper
2 lb. ground beef
3 roma tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves
5 medium carrots
3 medium zucchini
Handful of greenbeans
Chicken bouillon or chicken stock
20 azafran pellets
1. In a large bowl mix ground beef, eggs, seasonings, and rice. Form meatballs (I make mine about two bites sized) and place into 8 cups boiling water in first pot.
2. In second pot, boil another 8 cups. Blend tomato, onion and garlic. Add that to pot. Chop veggies and add those to this pot.
3. Once meatballs are done, add them to second pot. Strain contents of first pot, and add that broth to the second pot. Add salt, chicken bouillon, and azafran. Add water and salt as desired. Bring to boil, then simmer till veggies are soft. You can add the dried oregano to the whole pot, or to individual servings.