Turkey Albondigas Soup

We had Thanksgiving! We had rain! It was soup-making time.

My dad made a lovely stock from the leftover turkey bones, simmered overnight with carrots, celery and onion creating an intensely flavorful broth. I got to cart home a couple tupperwares worth. With turkey stock on hand and rain pouring down I instantly thought of the amazing turkey albondigas soup served at Roots Gourmet in Long Beach, it’s in the same shopping center as Purple Yoga. The broth is flavorful with onion, garlic, and roasted tomato, the homemade stock really makes it rich, and an abundance of fresh parsley brightens it up. Big chunks of potato and perfectly seasoned meatballs make the soup hearty and filling. My fellow Purple yogis and other LB friends know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, get to Roots immediately or just make it for yourself – you won’t be disappointed!


For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground turkey

1/3 cup plain long grain white rice

1/4 cup fresh mint chopped fine

1 egg

1 clove garlic minced fine

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper (fine ground)

For the broth:

2 quarts turkey or chicken stock

1 medium onion, diced small

2 medium potatoes, diced into large pieces (Optional. I actually didn’t put them in my soup, I opted for more meatballs!)

2 cloves garlic minced

1 clove garlic whole

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp flour

2 tomatoes, roasted then diced*

1 Anaheim or California long green chile, roasted then diced*

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Get the veggies roasting. Heat oven to 425. Half the tomatoes and the pepper remove seeds and ribs from pepper. Line backing sheet with parchment, place tomatoes and pepper cut side up on the sheet, bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to cool. [*Shortcut – instead of roasting and dicing your own tomatoes and chile, use 6 Tablespoons of Trader Joes canned diced roasted tomatoes with green chiles!]

TJ Tomatoes

Get your soup pot. Add a glug-glug of olive oil and over medium high heat sauté the onion and potato. Once the onion is soft and translucent, stir in the minced garlic. Add the stock, bring to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer.

While soup is simmering, make your meatballs. Add all ingredients together and mix well. Form all the mixture into balls one inch round, set aside.

In a small frying pan heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add whole garlic clove. When it starts to cook, press down on it with a fork to release the flavor, then remove the garlic from the pan. Add 1 Tablespoon flour, stirring it into the oil, cooking it to make a golden-brown roux. Stir it into the soup pot.

Tomatoes and pepper should be cool enough to handle now. Chop them up and add them to the soup pot along with the parsley.

Turn the heat up to high and add the meatballs one by one. When the soup starts to bubble, simmer over a low fire 15-20 minutes until meatballs and potatoes are cooked through.

Serve with some warm crusty bread and manchego cheese – that’s what I did and it was perfection!

Albondigas soup has its origins in Moorish Spain, receiving its name from the Arabic word al-bunduq, describing the meatballs small and round shape. I adapted this recipe after looking at few different authentic recipes handed down from abuelas to their foodie or chef grandkids and posted on the internet. Any variety of meat can be used, it’s just that turkey is especially delicious and I had turkey stock. Notice the absence of carrot and celery? They are not traditional and don’t be tempted to add them, they’re subtly there in the broth but additional carrot will make it too sweet and the strong flavor of celery will compete with the mint. I was super surprised to discover the presence of mint in the albondigas when I was enjoying a bowl at Roots, but it is essential, and really not so surprising now that I know of the soups’ link to the middle east where the meatballs would have been made of lamb and mint is added to everything! Truly, the mint is the secret ingredient. Other curious elements – I’m not sure why the roux is added… perhaps it helps the meatballs stay together as they simmer? Finally, I think the peppers must be a Mexican innovation, and a good one, I like it. All together this made for one fabulous soup on a cold, rainy day. If you make it for yourself, let me know how you enjoyed it!

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