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Spanish Albondigas (Meatball) Soup

Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish, and is a traditional Mexican meatball soup.  Made with a simple tomato broth, the additional of smoked paprika and saffron adds an amazing complexity and flavor to the broth, so be sure not to omit those two spices.


Shape into small 1" balls, you want them bite-sized. Instead of using all sausage meat, you can replace some of it with regular ground beef or pork. In a hot skillet, sear them on all sizes, about 4 minutes. They will finish cooking while simmering in the broth.

Crushing the tomatoes by hand really makes all the difference in texture of the soup (or any sauce where tomatoes are used). Discard any tough pieces of core. With the broth prepared, gently place all the meatballs in and allow to simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked. Meanwhile have a pot of spaghetti cooking in salted water.

To serve, place some cooked (drained) pasta into each bowl, add 4-6 meatballs to each and top with the broth. Garnish with some fresh parsley and Parmesan. SpaghettiMeatballSoup6

Spanish Albondigas Soup
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Be sure to use smoked paprika and not regular. Smoked paprika along with the saffron is the key to the amazing flavor in this soup.
  • 12oz GF hot (or mild) Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese*, finely grated (or dry powdered style)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ⅓ cup GF panko crumbs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • ⅛ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp saffron, crushed
  • 4 cups GF chicken stock
  • 15oz can whole tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
  • 8oz GF spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  1. Place sausages in a bowl and press with fork to break apart. You can replace some of the sausage with regular ground beef or pork if you Deidre for a lighter taste. Add paprika, cheese and egg, mixing well with hands. Add panko, mixing just until evenly distributed. Shape into small bite-sized balls (about 1-2"), wetting hands as needed to keep the mixture from sticking.
  2. Heat a large pot or deep skillet with 1 Tbsp oil and fry the meatballs over medium-high heat, turning until well browned on all sides (will not be fully cooked yet). Place on a plate and set aside.
  3. Wipe any grease out of pan and add 1 Tbsp oil and garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds then add spices, stirring for another 20 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add stock and tomatoes (with juices), and return meatballs to pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce then simmer for 20 minutes, or until meatballs are fully cooked. Removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile boil pasta in a separate pot of salted water until tender (or you can always add the dry pasta directly to the soup if you like and cook it until tender, although this will thicken the broth as the pasta absorbs the liquid).
  6. To serve, place some noodles in each bowl then top with the broth and about 4-6 meatballs in each. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and more Parmesan cheese if desired.
*replace the cheese with ½ cup of almond flour for a dairy free version


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