Exotic names often inspire a thrill from the unknown treasures that may be inside. For others, the strange and new presents fear and an unwillingness to try something new. Foreign foods contain foreign ingredients, some going so far as to include ingredients that are culturally taboo. As a small child, the general rule was that if the title of the food wasn’t already Anglicized, we didn’t eat it. This meant the exotic only went so far as MuShu Pork , burritos, and Spaghetti.
And then I got older.
We ate more variety. My parents took me to a different cultural festival in Ventura County every month one summer. The smorgasbord presented was only made more exciting by the jeers I received at school the following year when my parents tried to recreate perogies and falafel at home. I remember the food being delicious, and the adventure of making it brought my parents together into a force; a team. Oh the power of food!
Enter Albondigas Soup.
I was a teenager before I got over my fear of hamburgers. Completely irrational, and completely true. And not long after, I gained a fear of anything ground meat. Albondigas soup carries all of the elements that create fear of a new food: it’s foreign, the name is plain scary to try to say, and it’s made of ground meat.
It’s also incredibly simple. Albondigas = meatballs. And, as fans of Jonathan Coultan know, “meatballs, tasty.” In our house, this soup goes too fast to get pictures. A simple broth playing host to meatballs and vegetables is too tempting. All three of us gobble it up without a thought. The soup could also easily be made to be GAPS friendly, even early in the GAPS diet, by changing up the vegetables used.
Here it is, our recipe for a scary-sounding soup. Remember though, it’s soup. And soup isn’t to be feared.
- 1 pound ground meat. I like a mix of 3 parts beef to one part pork. Ground chicken and turkey really don’t have the fat content to hold a good meatball together, and the meatballs aren’t as flavorful. We’re all about the flavor, and a meatball that holds itself together well.
- 1 onion. You’ll want about 2 tablespoons finely chopped for the meatballs. The rest will go in to the soup.
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (If you’re a soapy cilantro taster, you could use parsley instead. Or go crazy and use a bit of tarragon).
- 1 egg
- 1 quart of stock (go all out and make a home-made bone broth. You won’t regret it).
- 2 carrots
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 stalks celery
- tomatoes (we usually use a box of Pomi brand tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- Other Veggies as desired
Mix the ground meat(s), egg, a tablespoon or so of chopped onion, 2 tablespoons or so of cilantro, a tea spoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon (we probably use more) together. Form balls of a size to your liking. We usually use about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of mix to make one meat ball. Set these aside.
Grab your stock pot and add your quality oil of choice. We use cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil for everything. It’s tasty, easier than having a billion oils for everything, and I know what’s in my olive oil (olive oil; nothing else). When the oil is hot, add in the remainder of the onion, the carrots, and the celery. Add a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add in the remainder of the vegetables, another pinch of salt, a bit of black pepper and soften. You could deglaze with a bit of wine or beer at this point (which I recommend) though we don’t often have any in the house, so we skip this. Add in your stock and another pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once the stock is hot, turn the heat down, taste the stock (and probably add another pinch of salt) and slowly plop in the meat balls. The hot liquid will help keep the meatballs together. Allow the soup to simmer until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with the remainder of the cilantro on top and scoop of sour cream, creme fraich, or yoghurt.
This makes way more soup than the three of us can eat for dinner. I’ll eat leftovers for lunch for a week. Or we’ll have a second dinner out of this and just a couple of days of leftovers. You could also freeze half and re-heat another night.