Meatball Soup

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This light and satisfying soup is a great favorite in Mexico and particularly good as a mid-morning pick-me-up or part of a brunch. It can be made a day or two ahead if necessary, but it does not freeze well. The addition of chicharròn to the meatballs, suggested to me by Senora Maria Luisa Martinez, will make them rather spongy and not so compact.




Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationgluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Moodblue, tired

Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, spiced

Type of Dishsoup


  • 1 tablespoon unconverted long-grain rice
  • 6 ounces (180 g) finely ground pork with a little fat
  • 6 ounces (180 g) finely ground beef with a little fat
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 3 leaves fresh mint
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped white onion
  • 4 black peppercorns, crushed
  • Sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup (65 ml) finely crumbled chicharròn (optional)
  • ½ pound (225 g) tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon roughly chopped white onion
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
  • About 7 cups (1.75 L) homemade chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, or water
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 4 ounces (115 g) potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch(6.25 mm) cubes
  • 6 ounces (180 g; about 3 medium) carrots, cleaned and cut into ¼-inch (6.25 mm) cubes
  • 6 ounces (180 g) zucchini, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch(6.25 mm) cubes
  • 4 yellow wax (Fresno) chiles or 2 chipotles en adobo
  • 2 large sprigs mint
  • 3 large sprigs cilantro


  1. Cover the rice with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Mix the meats together well in a large bowl. Put the remaining meatball ingredients, except the chicharròn, in the blender jar and blend until smooth. Add this to the meats with the crumbled chicharròn and work, preferably with your hands, until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside to season while you prepare the broth.

  2. Put the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into the blender jar and blend smooth. Heat the lard or oil in the soup pan, add the blended ingredients and cook over medium heat until reduced and seasoned-about 5 minutes. Add the broth or water and salt to taste; bring up to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for 8 minutes more. Add the zucchini and continue cooking over low heat. Divide the meat mixture into 24 or 36 small balls and add to the broth with the chiles and herbs. Continue cooking over low heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are very tender. A thin sheen of fat will cover the surface-about 45 minutes.


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