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This Albondigas soup recipe makes a traditional Mexican meatball soup; it’s hearty, flavorful and loaded with vegetables. No need to pre-cook the meatballs, just add them a few at a time to the boiling soup. (Watch the video below to see the process. It’s easy!)  

Albondigas Soup served in a white bowl and photographed from overhead.

The recipe I’m sharing today uses water as a base instead of stock. I’d made Albondigas years ago, and loved it, but hadn’t saved the recipe. All I remembered was that I’d taken the advice of someone who’d commented, “Albondigas should never have a broth base, it should be water.” Oddly enough this is true – I say oddly because I almost always use broth as a soup base. But for this Mexican meatball soup and Caldo Verde, water is better. I’ve tried them both ways and stock blurs the other flavors. That said, it’s delicious with broth too if that’s your preference.

Ingredients You Need to Make Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup Ingredients on a white marble board.

For the Soup

  • Olive Oil: good quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Onion: white onion or yellow onion
  • Carrot: peeled or not, your choice
  • Celery: use inner ribs for tender celery
  • Zucchini: green or yellow or a combination
  • Ground Cumin
  • Dried Oregano: ideally Mexican oregano
  • Can Diced Tomatoes: with juice
  • Fine Sea Salt: or about double the amount of kosher salt 
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Meatballs

  • Eggs: large or extra-large eggs
  • Ground Cumin
  • Fine Sea Salt: or about double the amount of kosher salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Cooked Rice: cooked brown or white rice
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Lean Ground Beef: not too lean, you want the meatballs to hold together and the fat helps them retain their shape
  • Chorizo Sausage: raw Mexican chorizo (Spanish chorizo is cooked an cured.)

Though this soup is hearty, it’s not heavy (like another one of my favorite Mexican soups, Pozole Verde). Yes, there are meatballs, but it’s also loaded with vegetables. And it makes a great dish to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

One meatball on a spoon scooped from Albondigas Soup served in a white bowl

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover Albondigas Soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until soup is hot and meatballs are heated through. Freeze in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

More Must-Try Meatball Recipes

How to Make Albondigas Soup

Cook and stir onion, carrot and celery in hot olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until softened; add spices, tomato and water and bring to boil. 

Combine meatball ingredients then scoop out heaping tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet; gently roll each meatball between your palms to form a ball.

Add meatballs to boiling soup one at a time; wait 1 minute before stirring to help meatballs hold their shape. Gently stir in zucchini; keep at a low boil until vegetables are tender and meatballs are cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve hot.

Recipe Video


Albondigas Soup

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 241
Servings: 6 people
Albondigas soup is a traditional Mexican meatball soup, it's hearty, flavorful, and loaded with vegetables. No need to pre-cook the meatballs, just add them to the boiling soup. (Watch the video to see the process. It's easy!)


For the Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot diced
  • 3 ribs celery thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6 cups water see recipe note #1
  • 4 medium zucchini diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or more
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more

For the Meatballs

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice I used brown basmati
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound uncooked chorizo sausage casings removed


  • In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook and stir until onion is translucent. Add cumin, oregano, tomatoes, and water. Bring to boil.
  • Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and add cumin, salt and pepper; combine with a fork or whisk. Stir in rice and cilantro. Add ground beef and chorizo; mix with your hands until combined.
  • Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the meatball mixture onto a non-stick or parchment lined baking sheet – into ragged little mounds that are close to the same size. Gently pick up one mound and roll it into a ball. Repeat with remaining mounds.
  • While the soup boils, add meatballs steadily, one by one. (See recipe note #2) Once you've added all of the meatballs, wait 1 minute for meatballs to 'set,' then gently stir. Add zucchini and stir gently; keep at a high simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and meatballs are cooked through.
  • Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


  1. Though I call for water, you can also use chicken or beef broth. If you do, note that you’ll want to adjust seasoning, i.e., salt to taste.
  2. I use both hands to add the meatballs quickly. Make sure the soup continues to boil as you add them to help keep the meatballs from falling apart.
  3. If you can’t find bulk, uncooked chorizo, look for uncooked chorizo sausages and remove the casing before adding to the meatball mixture.
  4. Ground beef and chorizo can vary a lot in fat content. If you have excess oil on your soup, skim it off with a ladle before serving.


Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1051mg | Potassium: 690mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2379IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Valentina says:

    The amount of delicious flavors packed into both the soup and meatballs is incredible. I really love that the meatballs are cooked directly in the liquid — having all of the soup ingredients seeping into them sounds amazing. Lovely! 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Valentina! Yes! Cooking the meatballs in the soup is convenient and I love how juicy it makes them.

  2. mimi rippee says:

    Great soup! I had no idea there was rice in the meatballs. Interesting!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Mimi!

  3. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    Woah, that soup looks incredible! I must admit that I’ve never come across Albondigas soup before, but I’m glad you’ve shared it here. Our evenings can still be a little chilly here in the mountains, so a bowl of this soup would be great for a spring dinner!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, David!