Albondigas(meatballs) are most often prepared with a ground meat. This recipe of Albondigas Norteñas is a recipe that was adapted from my abuelita Sara. For many years now, my sister and I have been toying with the idea of writing a family cookbook. In one of our many conversations, I expressed how I wished to have been able to learn more of my grandmother’s recipes. Her cooking style was simple, always prepared with fresh ingredients and served in a simple manner.
Not Every Mexican Mom Prepares The Same Recipe Alike!
If you have never tried this type of albondiga soup, please do try it! And those tortitas or albondigas in warm salsa verde, the bomb! Any time I have shared this recipe, I always the same reaction. “I have never seen albondigas like that before.” “They don’t look like albondigas.” We have to understand that every family, ever mom, every abuela, every tia and every region of Mexico may have a different variation or name for similar recipes that we all love.
Write it Down!
The scribbled note I wrote for this recipe for albondigas norteñas was lost for a while until recently. I am so happy I wrote those notes. From my sister Cristela’s memory of the soup, she described a tortita (fritter) prepared with the same batter used for chiles rellenos that was filled with shredded beef. It was served in a warm beef broth with spices and some tomato. Often served with a little added rice. I can imagine it served with warm corn tortillas and garnished with fresh lime and a spicy salsa or minced chile serrano or crushed chile piquin. Delicious!
To Me One Of The Most Beautiful Things Is Keeping The Traditional Recipes Alive!
While visiting my sister recently, she messaged my tia Elvia. She is mom’s youngest sister. My sister asked if she could share abuelita’s recipe for these albondigas norteñas. She responded! We were excited! Without knowing the recipe, just from the notes I had written down, the original recipe I posted was 95% on point! I have updated the post and written recipe to resemble more the traditional recipe my abuelita used to prepare.
For the version below, I added a few more ingredients to the soup base, which was the soup base my Mom used to prepared for her caldo recipes. Now every time I prepare any shredded beef recipe, I will save some for this tasty recipe. I can still envision those milk glass soup bowls with the red trim and the red table in my abuela’s kitchen, the sounds of chickens and cows in the distance….
I added extra broth and cooked some chunky vegetables like potatoes, carrots, chayote squash, bell peppers and corn. Served with a helping of red rice.
Albondigas Nortenas-Mexican Beef Soup
- 2 1/2 lbs. chuck roast
- 4 quarts water plus more to wash beef
- 1 medium white onion sliced in half
- 10 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 1 large stick of celery sliced
- 1 bunch of cilantro washed, divided into thirds
- Salt , to taste
- 4 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 serrano pepper, stem removed roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 extra large eggs at room temperature separate yolks from whites
- 2 tablespoon of flour
Garnish, All Are Optional, But Tasty!
- Homemade Hot Sauce See Notes
- 10 Lime wedges
- cilantro, chopped
- onion, diced
- avocado sliced
- Warm corn tortillas
- Rinse the beef well under cold water. Transfer to large pot and cover with 4 1/2 quarts of water. Add half the onion, 6 cloves of garlic, Salt, to taste, carrot, celery and 1/3 of the cilantro. Bring up to a boil at medium heat. Reduce heat to below medium. Skim off the foam on top, as needed. Cover 3/4 of the way and continue cooking until beef is tender. This may take more than 2 hours.
- Once beef is tender, transfer the beef to a large plate or bowl. Trim away excess fat. Using two forks, shred the beef. Season lightly with salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and set aside.
- Strain out all of the solids from the broth left in the pot. Keep warm on low. To the blender jar, add the tomatoes, remaining onion, remaining garlic, serrano, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, to taste and 1 cup of water. Blend on high until smooth.
- Pour blended tomatoes into pot with broth. Turn heat up to medium. When it comes up to a boil, skim some of the excess fat from the top. Taste for salt. Add the bay leaves and 1/2 of the remaining cilantro. Cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce heat to low. Keep covered.
- While the soup base simmers, prepare the tortitas: In a skillet, preheat 1 1/2 cups of oil to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. In a large bowl, add the egg whites. With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add in the yolks, flour and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Mix on low just until incorporated. Fold in the shredded beef.
- Using a large spoon, ladle in about 1/3 cup of the beef/egg mixture into hot oil. Fry 4-5 tortitas at a time for about 4 minutes, turning halfway through cooking times or until golden brown. Drain onto a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the tortitas are done. Yields 15 tortitas.
- Warm tortitas(albondigas) for 1-2 minutes in microwave on high. To each bowl, add 3 albondigas. Ladle in enough broth to cover albondigas. Garnish with cilantro, onion, spicy salsa or hot sauce and fresh lime. Serve with or without rice, with warm corn tortillas.