Albóndigas en Caldillo de Jitomate y Guajillo (Meatballs in a Tomato Chile Broth), photo by Sonia Mendez GarciaPhoto by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Albóndigas en Caldillo de Jitomate y Guajillo (Meatballs in a Tomato Chile Broth)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6-8 servings

I am not sure which is my most favorite, the albóndigas (meatballs) or the caldillo (broth) in this recipe for Albóndigas en Caldillo de Jitomate y Chile Guajillo. But, one without the other wouldn’t be as delicious for me. After posting my recipe for Kicked-Up Albondiga Soup a while back, many asked for a mild version of albóndiga soup. For this recipe, I switched it up a bit by preparing a caldillo or tomato-based broth. I also added some chile guajillo, which is for the most part on the mild side. It adds great flavor without adding too much heat. This is a great make-ahead recipe that improves with flavor the longer it sits. For a special family gathering or for a Sunday ballgame with friends, it’s a tasty bowl!


  • For the Albóndigas (meatballs)
  • 1 pound ground beef/pork mix (you can use all beef, pork, chicken or turkey for this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • For the Caldillo (broth)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 red or white onion sliced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 to 3 large Roma tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 serrano pepper stem and seeds removed
  • 4 chile guajillo stems and seeds removed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • You Will Also Need
  • 2 chayote squashes sliced (remove pit)
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced
  • 1 poblano or green bell pepper diced
  • 6 additional cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small handful chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish (I often will use the cilantro stems as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  1. For the albóndigas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix just until combined. Roll 15 to 18 small meatballs and transfer onto plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.
  2. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, tomato and serrano. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add the chile guajillo and saute for another 5 minutes. Finally add the 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer to the blender and let cool for a few minutes.
  3. While the tomato/chile mixture cools, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to that same pot and heat to medium. Add the chayote, carrots, celery and poblano. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 to 7 minutes. Cover the blender securely and blend tomato mixture on high until very smooth. For a more smooth sauce, you could strain it through a wire-mesh strainer. This will eliminate any seeds or chile skins left in the sauce.
  4. When ready, pour the tomato mixture from blender into the pot of vegetables. Add 6 more cups of chicken broth, 2 bay leaves, cilantro, oregano, lime juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While the caldillo (broth) is simmering, carefully drop in the albondigas. Once you make sure they are fully immersed into the soup, cook for another 30 minutes. Skim off any excess fat around the edge of the pot while it simmers. Taste for salt. Serve with warm corn tortillas and your favorite fresh garnishes, such as avocado, cilantro and lime. I garnished with a little crushed red pepper flakes for my taste.
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