April Recipe : Abuelita’s Albondingas

turkey albondigas soup

Soup is Really and Truly Good Food.

Welcome to another great day in the life of Zhee Zhee’s Funky Fresh Recipe of The Month Club! No matter what the weather, but especially on a chilly winter or spring evening; there is something so soulfully satisfying about a pot of simmering soup on the stove.

This month I am sharing a piece of my heritage with you – one of my favorite soups that my abuelita (grandma) and Tia Lola used to make, Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup).  I recently blogged about revamping some retro recipes for a Nostalgia Retro Cocktail Party.  One of those recipes was meatballs, which so many different cultures have been using for anything from meat loaf, to sandwiches, to pasta dishes and soups. If you checked out that meatball recipe and were already planning on making those; why not make a double batch and use some in this soup?

My Papa learned how to make my grandmother’s traditional recipe, and then taught me.  How great it was to be able to participate in making dinner as a little kid. I can picture my little hands now, and remember feeling so important that my job was to form the meatballs. **Hint Hint: Parents, please get your kids involved in making dinner with you, no matter what age they are, they will be empowered, educated and participate in nurturing the family. AND more likely to eat the food they made with their own little hands.**

The classic recipe calls for meatballs made with a mixture of seasoned ground beef and uncooked white rice.  The balls simmer in the broth and the rice cooks and poofs up in the meatballs; making them super tender and moist.  It really is the perfect symbiotic relationship because the meatballs absorb flavor and moisture from the broth, but at the same time the broth absorbs flavor from the meatballs.

In typical Zhee Zhee and The Flavor Conspiracy style, I revised the classic recipe to include more fiber and a tad less saturated fat; by replacing the ground beef with lean turkey, and replacing the white rice with oats.  I take advantage of whatever extra bits of veggies I may have in the fridge and throw those in the soup, too.  Soups like this give you the perfect chance to boost the nutrient value of a meal, plus not let scraps of veggies go to waste.

When the soup is finished, you have a warm bowl of healthy flavorful goodness that gets garnished with the classic condiments: dried oregano, cilantro, onion and lime.

Nutrition tidbits: By using oats instead of white rice, we have almost doubled the dietary fiber, yet cut total carbs by 60%. The use of carrots, limes  and tomato gives us a big boost of vitamin C, as well as all of that beta carotene from the carrots.  The use of cabbage (a cruciferous vegetable) provides us with a great source of antioxidants like vitamins C, A and K.

Turkey Albondigas
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 c. rolled oats
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 c. onion, minced
  5. 2 TB Worcestershire sauce
  6. 1 tsp. each cumin, chili flakes and chili powder
  7. 1 tsp. kosher salt
  1. 1 c. each small diced onion, carrot, celery, zucchini
  2. 2 c. chiffonade cabbage
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 3 roma tomatoes, small diced
  5. 1 TB olive oil
  6. Juice and zest from 1 lime
  7. 1 TB chili powder
  8. 1 tsp. each ground coriander, dried oregano, kosher salt and black pepper
  9. Handful of fresh cilantro, minced
  10. 2 quarts chicken broth
  11. 1 c. water
  12. Garnish - lime, dried oregano, cilantro and diced onion
  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and carrot with a few fat pinches of salt. When caramelized, add celery and zucchini. (This is where you would also add any extra bits of veggies you have that need to be used…bell pepper, cauliflower, etc.). Cook for five minutes.
  2. Stir in remaining soup ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients and form into balls (about 1 TB each). Drop balls gently into boiling soup. Turn the heat down on the soup to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Serve garnished with lime, onion, dried oregano and fresh cilantro.
The Flavor Conspiracy