Tuesday, January 24, 2012
January is National Soup Month, part 2 - albóndigas soup with chicken-chorizo meatballs
Delectable little meatballs made with chicken and chorizo, plus fresh carrots and zucchini in a tomato broth richly flavored with garlic, cumin and oregano... toss in some rice and you've got a healthy and delicious soup that everyone will love!
Albóndigas are meatballs and can be made with whatever you like: beef or beef mixed with pork is commonly used, and usually the meatballs are added right to the soup and simmered until cooked through. I've changed things up a bit and used ground chicken in place of the beef, and the albóndigas are browned separately before adding to the soup. This method works nicely because I've also added chorizo to the chicken albóndigas for incredible flavor. We all know how much fat chorizo can exude; best to leave that in the skillet and not have it floating in greasy puddles on top of your beautiful soup (or in your arteries). After making the albóndigas, the rest of the soup comes together easily. While you're standing around making the albóndigas anyway, enjoying the therapeutic effect of leisurely preparing slow food, why not double up on the ingredients and make two batches, one to use for today's soup and another to freeze? Ground chicken is often sold in one pound packages and chorizo in eight ounce links, making it incredibly sensible to make twice the amount and save half for a later time. You'll be glad that you did!
Finally, albóndigas soup can be appealing to all family members by shredding some of the vegetables. This not only effectively "hides" some of the veggies but it also makes a thicker soup. If you like a thinner, more brothy soup, the carrots and zucchini can be sliced or cubed. But if you're looking to surreptitiously stuff nutrient-rich veggies into picky eaters, try shredding the carrots and zucchini then adding to the soup. The self-proclaimed veggie-haters will never realize the bounty they're consuming, and the soup will also be more substantial without being full of empty calories and fillers.
Try this; I think you'll like it.
Start out by preparing the albóndigas (meatballs). Combine the following ingredients thoroughly and brown in a large skillet, in batches, until browned:
1/2 pound ground chicken ~ 1/4 pound chorizo ~ 1/4 cup shredded zucchini ~ 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro ~ 1/4 teaspoon salt ~ 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin ~ 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Remember to keep an eye on the albóndigas as they're browning because chorizo can burn really, really quickly when you're not paying attention. And once they're done, try not to keep nibbling on them. They're really hard to resist. *wink*
For the rest of the soup, you'll need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
12 drops chipotle hot sauce and 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring, OR 1 canned chipotle chili plus 1 teaspoon sauce
(I go with the hot sauce method; too many times I've used one or two of the chipotles and wasted the rest of the can, unfortunately.)
2 small carrots, shredded (or sliced thinly, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium zucchini, grated (or sliced thinly, if you prefer)
1/4 cup uncooked rice
In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the oil, with the cumin and oregano, until onion is transparent. Pour in the broth and crushed tomatoes, the hot sauce + liquid smoke (or chipotle chili), carrots and salt. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the browned albóndigas, zucchini, and rice and simmer for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender.
I like to serve this with a heap of fresh cilantro leaves because I just love the stuff - but I do know that not everyone is so enamored with the flavor. Julienned carrot and/or zucchini adds a colorful touch, and homemade fried corn tortilla strips add a welcome crunch.
If you prefer a more beefy flavor, albóndigas soup can be prepared using ground beef and beef broth. Try adding roasted corn to the soup, as well as poblano chili slivers, and change up the recipe with a handful of fideos or other quick-cooking noodles. The choice is yours!
Makes six servings.