Meatball Soup with Rice and Cilantro

Meatball Soup with Rice and Cilantro

Serves 6 to 8

Why This Recipe Works: This hearty soup known as sopa de albondigas features tender spiced meatballs and a complexly flavored broth. The meatballs traditionally contain rice, which, historically, supplemented the meat when it was scarce or pricey, making the dish more satisfying. When testing traditional methods for making this soup, we found that stirring raw rice into our meatball mix was not an option: When the rice was perfectly cooked, the meatballs were dry; when the meatballs were nicely tender and juicy, the rice was still inedibly crunchy. After testing a variety of types of rice including instant rice, parcooked rice, and long-grain converted rice, we discovered that the best solution was to use long-grain rice and parcook it for 8 minutes before stirring it into the meatball mix. Next, we took a closer look at the broth for our soup. We created a richly flavored base by sautéing a pureed mixture of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeño. This concentrated, roasty puree gave our finished soup a deeply complex flavor profile. Finally, we turned to the last key component in this soup: the vegetables. While many versions of this recipe are brothy, with large chunks of vegetables, we found that cutting our carrots and zucchini into slightly smaller pieces made for a more satisfying soup. We also incorporated rice directly into the broth to make the finished soup even heartier.

Serve with lime wedges, sliced radishes, and/or thinly sliced jalapeños.

1 cup long‐grain white rice
Salt and pepper
8 ounces 90 percent lean ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
5 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 large egg
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/2 onion, quartered
1/2 jalapeño chile, stemmed, halved, and seeded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2‐inch pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2‐inch pieces

1. Bring 4 cups water to boil in Dutch oven. Add rice and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Drain rice through fine-mesh strainer, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

2. Using your hands, mix half of parcooked rice, ground beef, ground pork, 3 tablespoons cilantro, egg, one-third of garlic, oregano, cumin, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in large bowl until thoroughly combined. Pinch off and roll mixture into 1-tablespoon-size meatballs (about 40 meatballs total) and arrange on rimmed baking sheet.

3. Process tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and remaining garlic in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomato-onion mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has dark- ened in color and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in broth and carrots, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Cook until carrots are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini and remaining parcooked rice, then gently add meatballs and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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