Comfort Food Classics: Albóndigas en Caldo (Mexican Meatball Soup)

This hearty Mexican meatball soup with veggies simmered in a clear broth is just what you need when you're in the mood for some good old-fashioned comfort food like your abuelita used to make.

Albondigas en Caldo -

Traditional Mexican Albóndigas Soup:

Albóndigas en Caldo is a traditional Mexican meatball soup simmered with carrots, potatoes, and calabacitas (zucchini) in a clear broth. It's a comforting soup for when you're craving a home-cooked meal or something to warm you up on a cold winter's day. And it's also my all-time favorite soup.

The flavor-packed albóndigas made with lean ground beef, onion, tomato, garlic, serrano chile, and oregano add a ton of flavor to the clear broth, which is also seasoned with a little extra oregano and fresh cilantro.

Once the soup is served, don't forget to garnish with chopped cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a spoonful of your favorite salsa. Two of my favorite salsas include my Chile de Molcajete (roasted tomatillo & árbol chile salsa) and Salsa Macha (an oil-based garlic & árbol chile salsa). And don't forget to have plenty of warm corn tortillas on hand.

Mexican Albondigas Soup -

I will forever remember the first time I attempted to make albóndigas on my own. It was one of my biggest kitchen fails ever! I cooked one pound of meatballs in about ten quarts (40 cups) of water. (The recipe I'm sharing today calls for 2-1/4 pounds of meatballs in 16 cups of water.) No amount of salt or beef bouillon was enough to season the insane amount of water I added to my soup. And I also went a little overboard on the oregano. As I was adding a sprinkle of oregano to the broth, the stopper fell out and out poured at least half a bottle of oregano. It was a horrific mess! And to make matters worse, I was expecting company for dinner and had no other food in the house to feed them. Thankfully we ended up ordering pizza, and my friends were no-show's to dinner.

How to make authentic Mexican albóndigas: 

But, as we say in Spanish, "La practica hace al maestro." (Practice makes perfect.) It took me a couple of attempts, but I finally mastered my albóndiga recipe which borrows elements from both my grandparents' recipes and my suegra's. I add old-fashioned oats to my albóndiga mixture as an added binder, just like my abuelito used to do, I also add chopped onion and tomato like my suegra taught me, and I always add lots of veggies just like my grandma.

How to make albondigas (Mexican meatball soup) -

Yield: 8 servings


This hearty Mexican meatball soup with veggies simmered in a clear broth is just what you need when in the mood for some good old-fashioned comfort food like your abuelita used to make.
prep time: 20 MINScook time: 60 MINStotal time: 80 mins


For the meatballs:
  • 2-1/4 lbs. lean ground beef 
  • 1/3 cup long-grain rice, uncooked 
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 1/3 cup dried bread crumbs 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 3 roma tomatoes, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 chile serrano, finely chopped (optional) 
For the soup:
  • 16 cups water 
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 6 medium yukon gold potatoes. peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
  • 4 medium Mexican calabacitas 
  • Chopped cilantro (for garnish) 
  • Lime wedges (for garnish) 


  1. Combine the ground beef, rice, oats, and dried bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl; season with salt, black pepper, and crushed Mexican oregano. Stir in the eggs, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and serrano chile until completely combined. Divide and shape meat mixture into 1-1/2-inch meatballs. 
  2. In a Dutch oven or in stock-pot, pour in 16 cups of water. Carefully drop in the albóndigas, one at a time. Resist the urge to stir! (You don't want to break up the albóndigas.) Add a handful of fresh cilantro. Bring meatballs to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Cover and reduce heat to low: let simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  3. Add the carrots and potatoes. Remember not to stir! Season broth with crushed Mexican oregano and coarse salt to taste. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add in the Mexican calabacitas. Taste broth and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the calabacitas are cooked through. 
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, a spoonful of your favorite salsa, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve with plenty of warm corn tortillas. 
Created using The Recipes Generator


  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.