Albondigas (A Tale of Recipes Gone Wrong!)

I have been fighting a terrible cold this week.  I haven't been able to do much around the house, but thanks to my weekly menu planning and a stocked fridge, I have been able to cook hearty meals for my family.

Nothing like a hot bowl of soup to nourish a person back to health.  Normally, I would make my Caldo de Pollo for the soul, but what I really wanted was a bowl of Albondigas (Meatball Soup).

Whenever I make Albondigas, I am reminded of one of my biggest kitchen disasters.  We've all had recipes that have gone terribly wrong.

My grandmother's Albondigas weren't the best.  The meatballs were very plain, but I loved the cooked vegetables that she added to the Caldo (broth).  My mother-in-law made her Albondigas for us during her first visit to the States.  Her Albondigas were very tasty, as was the broth, but no veggies.

I had never prepared Albondigas, but was sure that it would be the perfect thing to serve for a dinner party I was having for our neighbors.  How hard could it be?  All I had to do was follow my mother-in-law's recipe and throw in a couple of veggies, like Gramm.

Putting the meatballs together was easy.  And I was sure to add a dash of oregano for flavor.  I figured that a dash was a quick shake of my spice shaker.  But my oregano jar didn't have one of those lids with little holes like a salt shaker.  I figured, "Oh well!  A little extra oregano can't hurt."

We were still newlyweds, so I didn't have a lot of pots and pans, but I did have one very large stockpot.  I filled my stockpot with water, just like the recipe stated, and added the meatballs.  I was happy because I was going to have plenty of soup!

I had timed it so that the Albondigas would be ready by the time Hubby got home from work.  I wanted him to taste my masterpiece before serving it to our neighbors.  I served him a little in a small bowl and was smiling from ear-to-ear because I was just so darn proud of myself.

From the face that Hubby was making, you would have thought that my Hubby had just drank a cup of pure lemon juice.  But after tasting it for myself, I understood why.

Note to self: 10 quarts of water is way too much for just a pound of meat!  And a tablespoon of dried oregano was way too much.  You couldn't taste anything else.  Just oregano.  And the broth tasted like oregano water.

Hubby tried to save my soup by adding more and more salt and chicken bouillon, but it wasn't helping.  It really was a lot of water.   I was devastated and crying because our neighbors were due to arrive at any minute.  There was no way I could serve that horrible concoction.

Always the voice of reason, Hubby said we would order pizza as soon as our neighbors arrived.  But thankfully that never happened, because they had forgotten about our dinner party and  had gone to Disneyland.

As the old saying goes, practice really does make perfect, because now my Albondigas are always delicious.

(Mexican Meatball Soup)

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup  long-grain rice (uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (crushed)
  • 4 medium potatoes (cut in large chunks)
  • 4 carrots (peeled and sliced in large chunks)
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon

In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, rice, bread crumbs, tomato, onion, egg and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix until well combined.


Using a 1/8-cup measuring cup, shape the meat mixture into meatballs.  Place in a 4-quart stockpot with 8 cups of water.  Add the vegetables and season soup with 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon. Cover stockpot and cook over medium heat until vegetable are tender.  (About 40 to 45 minutes.)


Serve with plenty of warm corn tortillas and Chile de MolcajeteEnjoy!!!


  1. I've never had that kind. The first time I had this, my father in law had made it, he used mint. Oh my goodness it's so delicious!! Every time he comes to US I have him make a pot!, cause mine just don't taste the same.

  2. It actually looks pretty decent recipe. Thanks for sharing. I will try it soon.

  3. Great story and thanks for the recipe!

  4. love the story, how on earth could they forget you over Disney land. ;)Cant wait till I can eat this again.

  5. thank u thank u for this recipe. i have left a comment requesting albondigas before and this is the recipe i was requesting. thank u seems very easy. i hope i won't make oregano soup. LOL. thank you again!!

  6. Leslie,
    I come to your recipes frequently to get ideas on what to cook my Mexican husband for dinner. My husband is the only one of his siblings left here in the states. Before his sisters left they showed me once how they make albondigas, but I don't remember the recipe. I know it is very similar to your recipe only it had a tomato based broth to it. I was just wondering if you had ever seen or tried one. Albondigas are one his favorite meals, and I can't make them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  7. I too have heard other people talking about using mint in albondigas, I have not tried that way yet. Your story made me giggle as I remember the first time I decided to make tamales de elote. I had mastered pork tamales and my husband was saying he really missed the tamales de elote. We had only been married a couple of months and his cousin and wife were coming over. I put kernel corn in the middle of some masa in corn husks. OHhhhhhhh... his cousin took a bite and said "what is this?", same thing..... my second time making them didn't go much better!
    : ) Debra

  8. I have one question I am making this now and I noticed my albondigas broke apart its not done cooking yet and it's looking more like picadillo than albondigas! I followed your recipe only I doubled everything since I have a bigger family total of 2 lbs of meat instead of 1. Any idea what I could have done wrong?

  9. Hi Liz!  Sorry to hear that your albondigas fell apart.  Could be that the meat mixture was too dry.  Sometimes when you double the meat, you have to add an extra egg.  Another reason albondigas tend to break is from stirring the soup too much.  Hope you enjoy your caldo de albondigas.  Broken albondigas have fewer calories. LOL :) 

  10. LOL! Well it was delicious! It might be that I stirred too much because I did use two eggs. I will try it again sometime and keep my hands off the pot! Thanks Leslie.

    1. One thing my mom tought me was to put in the albondigas when water is boiling to prevent them from falling apart

  11. I wonder if these would work well with ground chicken instead of beef. My mom always makes albondigas but I never eat the albondigas...just the broth with tortillas. 

  12. Hi Leslie!
    I am making the albondiga soup, but am afraid to put in the vegetables. It seems like a lot of vegetables and I am afraid that they will break the meatballs when they fall in. Should I have put the vegetables in first and then the meatballs?

  13. going to try making it lets see how it comes out!! :)

  14. Leslie, thanks so much for these recipes! Alot of them are just the same as what I make (learning from my mother in law).. My hubby loves Albondigas but I have never made it.. going to try tonight! All of your recipes are DELISH! Thanks again for posting!

  15. My husband called his mom a couple weeks ago because he wanted to make sopa de albondigas. The kind he made were with masa and mint and he added in shredded chicken as well. It was more of a clear caldo with vegetables as well.

  16. myy specialty!!!

  17. i forgot how my mom made them, and this gave me the perfect reminder! Thank You! :)

  18. I'm not going to lie, it looks good, probably tastes good, but never in my life have I ever laid upon something so good as my mom's own albondigas. The way she made them, the way they looked, there was just something entirely new, and as I'm browsing through different recipes of tons of food, I realized that they don't know how to make them quite like home.

  19. I absolutely LOVE Albondigas! My mom usually adds mint to the mix and it's delicious! Can't wait to try the recipe.