Chipotle meatballs! This is not my mom’s caldo de albondigas!
I am all for traditional, but sometimes I just can’t help myself!
I won’t apologize for loving spicy foods. My first taste of spicy foods were probably mom’s tomatillo chile de arbol salsa, tamarindo with chile, saladitos with chile, fresh fruit with chile and lime. Spicy has always been a part of my life, lol! When it comes to preparing a mild salsa, I fail! It just doesn’t taste right to me. All of my salsa recipes tend to be on the spicy side. Why not incorporate it into some of my recipes. The easiest way to make any recipe mild is to omit the hot peppers or taste them before adding them. Don’t be fooled by someone telling you that jalapeños are milder than serrano peppers. I have encountered some pretty spicy jalapeños in all my years handling them. Recipes are just a guideline and they can be the way you like them.
Revisiting old recipes
Maybe it’s nostalgia that makes us long for the dishes mom and abuela used to prepare. Makes us feel like we are home again. Whenever I am feeling stressed or feeling homesick. I always end up in my kitchen preparing simple dishes like arroz, sopa or frijoles. It’s those simple recipes that I came to realize how much love went into cooking for your family day in and day out, as our moms and abuelas did. How will you know if you never try? This is how I approach recipes and life in general. My mind starts spinning as I am laying in bed half asleep thinking about trying new combinations on old recipes. Some days, the recipe plays out according to the ingredients I have on hand on any given day. That’s how new recipes are created.
What were your favorite caldo(soup) recipes growing up?
There were only a few caldo recipes that mom would rotate through out the year. Menudo, caldo de res(beef soup), caldo de pollo(chicken soup) and caldo de albondigas(meatball soup). It was my older sister, Chris, that introduced us to pozole(pork and hominy soup). Her husband, Alex, loved pozole and I am happy she introduced it into our family. If we wanted caldo de camaron or mariscos, we had to order those at the Mexican restaurant. Mom didn’t cook much seafood being brought up in Nuevo Leon, where beef and cabrito are popular.
Is the rice cooked or uncooked?
That is the #1 question I get when I share caldo de albondigas. I have always added it uncooked and it has always cooked through with no problem. You definitely could soak the rice or use par boiled rice if that makes you feel more comfortable. Adding the rice is traditional in mom’s recipe, but you could always add the uncooked rice directly to the simmering soup when you add the meatballs. Or just serve Mexican rice on the side.
There were only a select amount of staple ingredients mom had in her pantry most times. One of them was salsa El Pato, all varieties. It is a quick fix for all kinds of recipes, plus it’s tasty! Yes, there was cumin, even though it was used sparingly. Dried chiles, garlic powder, dried beans and rice always. For the mild version of this recipe, simply eliminate the chipotle peppers and the salsa El Pato. Blend 3 roma tomatoes with a little garlic and salt as a fresh substitute.
It’s very important that you do not disturb the albondigas when you add them to the simmering soup base!
Big chunky vegetables or bite size? That is totally up to you!
What are the best vegetables to use?
Mom’s version of this soup is much more simple than mine. I remember there were minimal vegetables like carrots, potatoes, celery and maybe some diced tomato. Nowadays I see caldo de albondigas loaded with chayote, calabacitas, cabbage and corn. You are the master in your kitchen. Every time I prepare it, it may be slightly different, lol! It’s all good!
Caldo de Albondigas con Chipotle-Chipotle Meatball Soup!
- 1 large pot
- 1 lb ground chuck, sirloin
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsps cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
- 3 chipotles in adobo, minced
You Will Also Need
- Avocado oil
- 3/4 cup Onion, diced
- 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 2 med carrots, peeled
- 2 red or white potatoes
- 1 Chayote
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 cans of El Pato tomato salsa 8 ounces each
- 2 1/2 quarts of water, 10 cups
- 5 small bay leaves
- 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
- 2 small Mexican squash
- 1/4 section large head of cabbage, chopped
- In a large bowl, mix all if the ingredients for the albondigas. Wet your hands and form the meatballs. You can roll 15 large meatballs or 30 small meatballs. Transfer to plate, cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled until ready to use.
- Slice or dice the vegetables to the desired size. Set aside
- In a large dutch oven style pot, at medium heat, add 1 1/2 tbsps. of avocado oil. Preheat for a few minutes.
- After a few minutes, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the carrots, chayote and celery. Season lightly with salt and pepper as you add ingredients. After a few minutes, add to tomatoes, then the potatoes. Pour in the 2 cans of El Pato salsa and the 2 1/2 quarts of water. Stir well to combine.
- When it comes up to a simmer, taste for salt. Add the bay leaves and cilantro. I like to add the cilantro chopped, but you can add it whole. When it comes up to a boil, reduce heat slightly and cook for 10 minutes. While it it simmering, gentle drop in the meatballs, spreading them out evenly. Let the meatballs cook for ten minutes without stirring.
- After 10 minutes, add the Mexican squash(or zucchini) and the cabbage. Cook for another 15 minutes. Serve with more rice if you like. Don't forget the lime wedges and warm corn tortillas!