Chicken Albondigas Soup

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

A friend created this soup for an informal dinner party years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since. The albondigas (meatballs) can be prepared a day or two ahead and reheated.

Serves4 to 6



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseAppetizer, Main Course

Dietary ConsiderationLactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free


Taste and TextureHerby, Savory, Spiced

Type of DishChicken Soup


  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • ½ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup white rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 Roma or Italian plum tomatoes (about ¾ pound), seeded, peeled, and pureed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • Small cabbage (about 1 pound), cored and chopped
  • 5 cups Basic Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Spicy V8 Juice or any spicy tomato-vegetable juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt
  • Crème Fraîche  or sour cream


  1. To make the albondigas, in a large bowl combine the chicken, bread crumbs, egg, cilantro, cumin, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix well with your hands. Lightly shape into 1-inch meatballs, packing lightly.

  2. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil to sizzling. Sauté the meatballs in small batches until evenly browned. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

  3. To make the soup, heat the oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the rice and sauté about 30 seconds, stirring to coat all the grains. Add the garlic, celery, and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Transfer to a Dutch oven or large pot. Add the tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, broth, juice, cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste. Simmer for 45 minutes, partially covered, or until the vegetables are cooked.

  4. Add the albondigas a few at a time. Simmer an additional 5 minutes to heat through.

  5. Adjust the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Ladle into serving bowls and top with a dollop of Crème Fraîche or sour cream.


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