A Deliciously Tasty Chicken Albondigas Soup Recipe

Chicken Albondigas: Albondigas is Spanish for meatballs, and these Spanish chicken and rice meatballs are truly lovely and great in a variety of dishes.

Sopa de albondigas de pollo, chicken meatball soup, is a delightful, classic Mexican soup of lovely chicken meatballs made with cooked rice and herbs.

The broth is a delightfully silky chicken, white wine and tomato broth with stewed onion, zucchini, chayote squash, and carrots.

With the flavors of northern Mexico, this is also a popular Tex-Mex dish with the usual American adjustments to the recipe. Mint is a popular American modification to the meatballs but the more common version seen in Mexico uses cilantro.

Use mint if you’re not interested in the flavor of cilantro, or if you have the genetic variation that makes cilantro taste like soap to you. Nothing’s worth eating food that tastes like soap.

Whether cilantro tastes like a spicy, grassy delight or a soapy nightmare to you, this chicken albondigas soup recipe will be a comfort with one minor tweak in either direction, and your kids will ask for seconds every time they smell it simmering in your kitchen.


  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup basmati rice, cooked
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint (or cilantro) leaves
  • Broth
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large zucchini, cubed
  • 2 chayote squash – peeled, cored, and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • salt to taste


  1. Add 4 roma tomatoes, half of the onion and garlic in a blender or food processor and blend until a smooth tomato sauce.
  2. To start making the meatballs, take the rice and pulse it in your food processor until a finely ground paste and add it to the chicken. Mix in salt and pepper, egg, finely-chopped onion, oregano, and cilantro and mix with your hands until they form an evenly-distributed mass. Form into meatballs, ¼ cup at a time, until the mixture has all been formed into meatballs.
  3. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and add the tomato sauce, along with the chicken stock and white wine. Bring to a boil and, using the ladle, add the first meatball to the soup, lowering until it’s fully submerged and removing the ladle afterward. Repeat with the other meatballs until every meatball is submerged in the broth.
  4. Add zucchini, chayote squash, carrots to the soup along with salt and ground black pepper, and bring to a boil again, then lower to a simmer, adjust salt to taste, and cover with a lid.
  5. Simmer the soup until meatballs are cooked through (about 170 degrees internally) and vegetables are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
  6. Serve with tortillas or bolillo rolls/pan frances. The soup will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, assuming your family will let it last that long!

Chicken Albondigas Soup FAQs:

Where in Mexico is sopa da albondigas de pollo from?

Also known as Albondigas con caldo or albondigas en caldillo, these lovely meatballs and the silky tomato-infused broth that they are simmered in originate from the northern states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila.

Bordering on the United States, these states have American-inflected tastes and large populations of American expatriates.

They are also known for beautiful and rugged terrain, as they share the semiarid climate of Texas, while the river regions are known for their pine-oak forests and cotton agriculture. Coahuila and Chihuahua are two of Mexico’s largest states.

Why Rice In The Meatballs?

Rice used in the meatballs has the same purpose as bread crumbs in American-style meatballs: To bind the meatballs with a starchy secondary binder and keep them together while they simmer in the soup.

These meatballs could certainly use bread crumbs in place of the rice for a more American-style meatball, but the Spanish-style meatballs used in albondigas de pollo use rice according to all of the recipes we’ve looked at.

So we’re continuing to use rice because it’s traditional.

Should You Add Rice To The Soup?

This is certainly a popular variation – chicken rice soup is one of the most popular chicken soups in North America after chicken noodle, to be sure!

If you want to add rice to the soup, be sure to make it cooked, leftover rice, like the rice in the meatball – you don’t want cooking rice to suck up all the liquid in the soup, and using pre-cooked rice will prevent that.

What Makes This Chicken Albondigas Soup Recipe Special?

You do! Like all other homemade soups, the thing that makes this soup special is the special care that the cook brings to it. Because you’re the cook, as well, you can make any changes that you think would improve the soup – if you don’t want cilantro, substitute mint or even oregano in the meatballs (oregano is a popular herb in Mexican as well as Italian cuisine).

If you want, you can use the soup without any further changes or you can break it up with adding rice (see above), noodles, or other vegetables into the soup.

What If I Can’t Find Chayote Squash?

Chayote squash is a popular Mexican squash with a thin, edible skin and a look like a pair. The flavor is mild and fresh and slightly sweet.

If you can’t find chayote squash in your supermarket or food coop, seek out a Mexican supermarket in your city. If you live in a city that lacks one, you do have options.

You can substitute more Zucchini for the Chayote, though it will flatten the flavor of the soup somewhat. You can also substitute green papaya (underripe papaya) or a shorter, young squash called cucuzza.

If you are looking for cucuzza, make sure that you use the youngest, smallest, and sweetest specimens available.

If you have a desire for a different vegetal flavor, kohlrabi – a juicy and crisp vegetable – is another fantastic option to bring to your soup. Kohlrabi is a bulbous tuber that grows on ground level and can easily be found in most adequately stocked supermarkets.

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