Spicy Albondigas Soup Recipe

We love exploring different cultures through their cuisines, and our recipe developers are no different! Kristen Carli, a registered dietitian and recipe developer, lives in Arizona. Thanks to the proximity to Mexico, there are plenty of noticeable influences in the regional cuisine. Carli was inspired from the wide range of Mexican food available locally, and developed this spicy albondigas soup recipe, which she says is popular in the Southwest. According to Delighted Cooking, albondigas are meatballs with a distant history shared between Islamic cultures and Southern Europe. This Mexican rendition pops them into a soup for a deliciously satisfying meal.

One thing you should know about Carli – she's not afraid of some spice. Indeed she remarks, "I love a little heat in my recipes. This one has a kick!" In case you're spice averse, don't let that deter you from trying the recipe — just skip the chili and cayenne. If you're looking for a quick weeknight dinner that tastes great and is easy to make, you'll want to get started on this recipe. Any leftovers will store well, and the meatballs will even continue to soak up flavor from the broth.

Gather the ingredients

Start off by gathering up the ingredients for this spicy albondigas soup recipe. The list might seem long but lots of components are spices to maximize the flavor. First, you'll need some ground sirloin beef, which is the leanest type of ground beef. Although it might be dry alone, the meatballs will be sitting in broth so it actually works out well for this recipe. Next, an egg and some breadcrumbs are incorporated into the ground beef to facilitate binding. Then comes the seasoning – Carli chooses cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to create complex flavors with some heat. Feel free to omit the chili powder or cayenne pepper (or use less than called for) if it's too much, or include them and initiate your palate to spice! 

Olive oil is used to cook the meatballs in the pan, but if you usually use another oil for this purpose, then stick with what you like. To build a tasty foundation for the soup broth, Carli sautés diced yellow onion and minced garlic to start. Alliums have the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that will be great with the soup. The bulk of the soup flavoring comes from fire-roasted tomatoes and some tomato paste. Fire-roasted tomatoes have a rich, smoky flavor that will add tons of character to the soup. Finally, some beef broth is used to thin the soup out while adding some salt to balance everything out.

Mix the ground beef with the seasonings and rolling it into balls

Before you get your hands dirty, preheat the oven to 350 F. Then, set out a large bowl and add the ground sirloin beef, an egg, breadcrumbs, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, half a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. The best way to properly combine all of the ingredients is to use your hands. Make sure they're clean and really get in there, stopping once the mixture is uniform. Avoid overmixing the meat or it can become slightly tough and dry. Next, roll the ground beef mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Sear the meatballs in a pan on the stovetop

Set a large pot on the stovetop over medium heat, and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, carefully add in the meatballs. You'll want to keep rotating the meatballs as they cook to brown them on all of the sides. It should take you about eight minutes for the meatballs to develop a nice crispy exterior. At this point, you can turn off the stovetop while you work on the next step, but don't remove the pot because you will need it again shortly.

Transfer the meatballs to a baking tray and bake them for 10 minutes

Once the meatballs have browned, transfer them from the pot to a baking sheet. Your oven should be preheated by now, so pop the tray in and bake the meatballs at 350 F for 10 minutes. Even though you already cooked the exterior of the meatballs on the stovetop, the cook time in the oven will allow the middle to properly cook through.

In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic

Meanwhile, back to the pot on the stovetop! It should still have some oil residue from the meatballs at the bottom so it shouldn't require additional olive oil. Heat it back to medium and add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pot. Cook the alliums for about five minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. This will allow the softer, sweeter flavors of the onion to shine through, creating the perfect base for your spicy albondigas soup. 

Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the broth, then bring everything to a boil

It's time to add more flavor and liquid to complete the soup broth. First, pour in the can of fire-roasted tomatoes and add the tomato paste to the pot. Then, pour in 4 cups of beef broth and add some salt and black pepper to season. Finally, bring the contents of the pot to a boil to combine all of the flavors for the soup.

Add the meatballs back into the soup to serve

The meatballs should have finished baking by now, so carefully transfer them from the baking tray to the soup broth in the pot. You're now ready to serve up this delicious soup — make sure that a few meatballs end up in each bowl. As Carli notes, "This dish is complete on its own," however, if you want a little something extra she adds, "but it is delicious with Mexican rice on the side."

Carli says that "This keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days." We bet that the meatballs will be even more delicious after a day or two sitting in the broth!

Spicy Albondigas Soup Recipe
4.9 from 21 ratings
Add some spice to your life with this albondigas soup, packed with heat from chili powder and cayenne pepper. It's cooked and on the table in just 30 minutes!
Prep Time
Cook Time
albondigas soup in bowls
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 pound ground sirloin beef
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef broth
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ½ a teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
  3. Using your hands, mix the beef with the seasonings until everything is well combined.
  4. Roll the ground beef mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  5. Place a large pot on the stovetop over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs and sear them for about 8 minutes, rotating them so that all of the sides become crispy.
  7. Remove the meatballs from the pot and place them on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes.
  9. While the meatballs are baking, add the onion and garlic to the same pot you used to sear the meatballs.
  10. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent.
  11. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the onion and garlic mixture.
  12. Then, add the broth and the remaining salt and pepper.
  13. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and turn off heat.
  14. Add the fully cooked meatballs to the soup.
  15. Serve hot, making sure each individual bowl has some meatballs.
Calories per Serving 274
Total Fat 16.7 g
Saturated Fat 5.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 85.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 10.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Total Sugars 4.1 g
Sodium 791.2 mg
Protein 20.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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