AKA Mexican Meatball Soup. AKA: YUM. Please don't go anywhere and order this as AlbonDIgas soup. You must say AlBONdigas to win the respect of your waiter.
I love this soup. It's so warming and delicious. Even a less than stellar version is O.K.. The worst is when it becomes gummy from too many boiled potatoes and when the meatball is 80% rice.
I flew up to SF to celebrate my birthday with some friends and 2 hours after I arrived we were chowing down on this. It easily feeds about 6 people. There was enough leftover to feed 2 additional neighbors who were having a bad day. So really, you can count on 8 if it's a first course. Maybe 4 if that's all you're serving.
FOR THE MEATBALLS (makes about 20)
1/2 lb. ground turkey or chicken
1/2 lb. pork sausage filling (get what you like and squeeze out of casing)
** any variation possible here incl. ground beef and chicken sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup stale baguette smashed up or 1/2 cup white rice (make sure rice is not too wet or gluey)
** use panko breadcrumbs if you are feeling lazy
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground pepper & salt
pinch of dried oregano
Mash it all together, mix well and form cute little meatballs. They will shrink a tad. Best size is about a big inch across. Although one GIANT meatball in the bowl is visually stimulating, it's harder to eat.
Place in baking dish (can be close together) and bake at 350 for 35 min. Turn them half-way for even browning.
FOR THE SOUP
4-6 cups of Chicken Broth (with salt and fat please) 1 carton plus half a cup more is what I used
1 stalk of celery (finely chopped)
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped) - use parlsey if allergic
1/2 a cup of olive oil
1 can of diced stewed tomatoes (drain very very well - no liquid)
1 large carrot (finely chopped)
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 large cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 large russet potato (diced)
1 small zucchini (diced)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of paprika
*** if you like HEAT do a tsp of cayenne - yehaw
Start with the potato. Saute in olive oil until browned. Add the onions, keep stirring until brown. Add the carrots about halfway through the onions. By now add a little more oil. Then the WELL-DRAINED tomatoes. Give them a chance to brown a little too.Then the celery. Lastly, the garlic and the cilantro. You should now have a great looking browned up mix of veggies. Your potatoes should be tender. Add your broth and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are completely soft.
Some like to add Avocado. Go ahead.
By now your meatballs look brown and delish and there is some fat/sugar glazing your baking dish. There will be more sugar residue if you used a sweeter pork sausage. Put the meatballs and all the goop into the simmering soup. Simmer for another 5 min. and serve.
We do NOT want a roiling boil here. Be gentle.
Serve in a nice soup bowl with a sprinkle of either cotija cheese or pre-shredded mexi blend cheese. Use both if you are feeling cheesy. A little sprinkle of green never hurt anyone. Hello cilantro garnish.
I think I prefer the meatballs with breadcrumbs, but rice is more traditional.
Some people like HUGE meatballs. Not me!