Caldo de Albóndigas (Meatball Soup with Bulgur Wheat), photo by Sonia Mendez GarciaPhoto by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Caldo de Albóndigas (Meatball Soup with Bulgur Wheat)

Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
If you love meatball soup, try this slight variation with bulgur wheat instead of white rice.

Here's a slight variation on my favorite soup recipe of all time. Caldo de albóndigas, or meatball soup, is one of those recipes that reminds me of home and can be enjoyed anytime of the year. I have been asked several times about a substitution for the white rice in the recipe, so this time I used a whole grain known as bulgur wheat. I parboiled it with just a little bit of water, and 30 minutes later it was ready to be added to the meatballs. The bulgur wheat adds that texture of rice but has a mild wheat flavor. It can be served as a side just like rice, but with the added benefits of whole grain.

I was pleasantly surprised while browsing through the Goya products at my supermarket a few weeks ago to find a great selection of dried beans, grains and lentils. Canned and boxed foods are great in a pinch, but if you ever feel the urge, I would suggest cooking your own from scratch. It’s more economical and you can control the sodium content. Fresh foods are always better, in my opinion.

Ingredients

  • For the Albóndigas (meatballs):
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • water
  • 1 pound ground-chuck beef
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • cumin to taste
  • smoked paprika to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano or 2 teaspoons finely chopped, if using fresh
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • For the Soup Base:
  • olive oil
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper minced
  • 1 Anaheim pepper diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 2 tomatillos diced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 1 lemon or lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano to taste

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Directions

  1. In a bowl, add the bulgur wheat and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes; drain and rinse.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bulgur wheat and all of the ingredients for the albóndigas. Stir well to combine. Roll 18 the meatballs and transfer to a plate. Cover with plastic and chill for 1 hour.
  3. After 30 minutes, preheat 2 tablespoons of oil to medium in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, serrano, Anaheim and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients for the soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and taste for salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, while soup is simmering, gently drop in the albóndigas into the soup. Cover pot loosely and continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring gently to move meatballs around. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with warm corn tortillas or tostadas. Garnish with lime, cilantro and pepper flakes.
  5. Tips~ Again, this is one of those recipes I would suggest preparing a day or two ahead. The flavors will be even better!Tips~ Again, this is one of those recipes I would suggest preparing a day or two ahead. The flavors will be even better!
  6. Try adding some bulgur wheat into your favorite chili recipe for a tasty vegetarian version.Try adding some bulgur wheat into your favorite chili recipe for a tasty vegetarian version.

Chef Notes

29-newfolder216 When purchasing whole grains such as bulgur wheat or quinoa, keep them in an airtight container in a cool space. Too much light or heat could cause them to become stale. 31-newfolder217 The albóndigas can be prepared with any meat of your choice. I often use turkey or chicken for a lighter version.

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