Soup revised

Let’s make a deal:  I promise not to get all emotional on you here and
take you on a fast track down a sentimental freeway if you promise to
stay with me during this post’s entirely. A deal? Great. Thanks.

So a little over a month ago you may remember that I managed to successfully pull off an
appearance on the Martha Stewart show without fainting, stumbling on my
words or discovering a sudden loss of bladder control. Hey, when you’re
standing next to Martha herself it could happen, no? What many of you
may not know is that immediately after wrapping up the show and
watching Martha eat hot dogs from the green room I was invited to head
over to her other magazine for a blogger playdate in the test kitchen
by Everyday Food’s Editor  Deb Puchalla. I joined a few other of my
blogging idols to meet the staff and cook in the test kitchen and my
experience was the icing on the cake of one of the best days of my
life. Truly.

Keeping in the spirit of Everyday Food, the
digest-sized magazine that focuses on creating simple, flavorful and
quick meals with great ingredients, I  pondered long and hard about what to make. Knowing
autumn was right around the corner and that I’d have to feed a crowd I
knew I couldn’t rely on our usual weeknight meals because they are
either too elaborate or too mindnumbingly quick. Forget a recipe for a
long, slowly braised shank and also forget my go-to PB&J sandwich.
Those would not do.

I remembered my grandmother’s Albondigas, a Mexican meatball soup.  It
encompassed everything  — it feeds a crowd, never takes me longer than
25 minutes to prepare, is amazing the next day, can be personalized and
adapted depending on one’s taste, and it was something I’d be happy and
proud to share. I remember my grandmother in the kitchen where she
worked her magic on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day, and while I
know I’ll never be as great a cook as she was I do hope I have at least
one-tenth of the skill and love she put into her food. Why of course
it’s cliché, this grandmother-as-culinary-idol, folks, there’s a
reason for it. To think of her and to share her cooking helps her
legacy live on and I can’t think she’s somewhere beyond pinching my lil
fat cheeks as I share her recipe with the folks from Martha Stewart.
Never in my wildest dreams!

Now I understand everyone has their own version of something as basic
as a soup or even meatball soup, and that’s what I find so amazing
about this simple recipe. Adding chopped herbs on top, a dollop of sour
cream or hotsauce and it instantly becomes your own. Some recipes add
mint to the meat mixture while others include more vegetables. You
really can’t detract from its simplicity and perfection. To say it’s
Mexican Soul Food of the highest order certainly wouldn’t be an

You begin with ground beef or a blend of pork and beef (my personal
favorite). The ground meat is then seasoned, mixed with cooked rice and
egg and dropped into a broth. As they cook the rice absorbs the liquid,
resulting in a light, fluffy and moister-than-moist meatball. No dry
flavorless balls here, folks. And the broth itself couldn’t be easier:
stock, tomatoes, garlic, onions, a few herbs and that’s it. Of course
it’s better made with homemade stock but premade works in a pinch.
Serve it along side crusty bread or fresh warm corn tortillas. Add a
few slices of fresh avocado on top for contrast. And like most soups it
just gets better as it sits and has time to develop its favors. And the
best part? Inevitably one or two meatballs will break and make their
way around the soup, resulting in those little bits of meat that season
the entire broth.

Albondigas Meatball Soup
Here’s the very simple recipe handed down from my grandmother. Its
simplicity is key here but it can be dressed any way possible — a
spoonful of salsa, a splash of vinegary hot sauce, chopped cilantro or
even green onions. It’s great served with fresh corn tortillas and like
most soups is even better the next day. Depending on what type of meat you use (you could even use ground turkey), some skimming of the soup’s surface may be necessary.

For The Meatballs
1 lb ground beef (or a blend of pork and beef)
1 medium onion, diced small
1/2 cup cooked white rice
2 or 3 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper

the onions and garlic with the cumin and oregano over medium heat,
until translucent and cooked, about 5 minutes. In a big bowl add the
onion mixture and cooked white rice to the ground beef along with 2
whole eggs. Mix well, season with salt and pepper and form into small
meatballs, 1 to 2 tablespoons each.

For The Soup
6 Cups Chicken Stock
1 large tomato or 1/2 can of stewed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

the onion, garlic and tomato until the tomato begins to break down,
about 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the
heat and drop in the meatballs very gently into the hot liquid. Cook
over medium heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Season the soup with salt
and pepper to taste.  To serve, top the soup and meatballs with chopped
cilantro (or parsley if you don’t do cilantro) and serve with fresh warm corn tortillas or even a crusty


And now are some snapshots from my afternoon spent at the offices and test kitchen of Everyday Food. The world’s biggest hugs of gratitude go out to Deb Puchalla who has singlehandedly bridged a gap between traditional print and this new-crazy-scary world of blogging. She’s shown a few of us that both can exist and even complement each other and she’s brought the readers into the magazine and truly listened. You are simply the best, Deb.

Here I am getting busy in the test kitchens of Everyday Food. Note the fancy Everyday Food apron! Damn I’m really going bald.


SO. MANY. BOOKS ! The test kitchen has their own “little” library of cookbooks and in fact there were books EVERYWHERE. I’d love to show you the rest of the offices at Martha Stewart but there was simply too much proprietary information all over the place and photos were not allowed. But we did get to see the inside of the ribbon room. Yes, I said ribbon room. I really did.


Adam and Associate Editor Emma Feigenbaum share a quiet moment in the corner while my sister Angela snaps away. I want to thank the entire staff for letting us invade and disrupt their workspace as well as being lovely and gracious hosts. Speaking of lovely, can you believe that Emma? Look at her. STUNNING. And just as nice as can be.


Soup’s on! Everyone samples the soup while Food Editor Sandy Gluck works cilantro duty. The only bad part about the day was that I did not find a picture of me and Sandy together, and oh my god she is amazing and I could have hung around and chatted with her until security came and took me away.


Editor Deb Puchalla, Assistant Editor Susan Streit, Senior Editor Kristen Evans (foreground), Senior Associate Editor Charlyne Mattox and Associate Editor Emma Feigenbaum. Again, a big giant thanks for hosting us bloggers and for showing us around as well as my sister and best-friend Angela for taking the images.

It was one of the best days of my life, no kidding. It’s great to meet a bunch of people who are truly passionate and open about what they do.

(and of course a big giant THANK YOU to Deb!)


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing this special day–how exciting it all sounds! This is a foodbloggers dream come true. Your soup sounds fantastic–I can’t wait to give it a go.

  2. ana says

    i really enjoy your column but never wrote in til now. my family [we’re from the philippines] LOVES this dish, but we call it ALMONDIGAS. aside from pork, the meatballs are flavored with diced shrimp. and we eat it over white rice with strips of nori/japanese seaweed. that japanese touch is i think a family thing. absolutely delicious and brings back memories of my childhood.

  3. says

    What a terrific experience for you. Congrats! I love reading about food that stirs not only the appetite, but also the memories. I’ve been trying to recapture some of the recipes my relatives have made, when, where and the circumstances around it. Great post — Jean

  4. says

    What a wonderful day that was. And how awesome it was to meet YOU, one of MY blogging idols! Come back to New York soon, so we can play again. And yes, your grandmother’s albonidgas will make an appearance in my kitchen soon. Thank you for sharing as I’ve been waiting for this recipe!

  5. says

    Ok, here’s the deal. I’ll arrange another playdate if you can teach me how to make an image of soup look that amazing. I can’t wait to make it at home. Thank you thank you for the nice words. Hanging out with you and @ChefMark and @homesicktexan @Foodphilosophy and @thesmitten and @pistachio was a true treat!

  6. says

    I love Albondigas, thx for the this recipe. Of course we’ll never get it to look as good as you do.

    On a separate note, I was saddened to see Prop. 8 passed…I remember your post from a few months ago and it made me heartsick.

  7. says

    Wow! Double wow!!! What an incredible day! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. And thanks for the Albondigas recipe – I love that soup!

  8. says

    Sounds like such a great time. Deb is doing a truly amazing job of embracing social media. So few from the publishing world comprehend what is happening – it is both foreign and threatening to many. The energy and enthusiasm with which she engages the community and conversation is wonderful. I've never been a martha stewart reader, but Deb's behavior on twitter has made me rethink my view of that brand.

  9. Claudia says


    I love Albondigas! As you say we all have a way to make them our own. My mom made a wonderful Albondiga soup, however do to the family ours always had potatos in it. (As a way to feed more for less) So I said when I grow up and make more money I will not have potatos mixing it with my Albondigas; but you know if I don't put them in, then it does not taste like mom's :)

    thansk for your recepie, I'll give it a try.

  10. says

    Looks like a lot of fun! A ribbon room?! I can believe it. Thanks for giving us a sneak peek. Your soup sounds delicious too.

  11. says

    My daughter makes something similar but with chicken meatballs and lost of vegetables. She calls it vegetable meatball soup. I'm glad to see everything going so well for you but I would be curious to see your reaction to Proposition 8 winning…

  12. says

    Matt, love your blog. I just put a recipe for our grandma's soup out there and then found yours. It's what cooking is really all about isn't it?

  13. says

    Thanks for letting us experience Martha in a whole new way – vicariously through you! What an incredible experience, and you look like you fit right in. Your soup shot is glorious. I'd totally buy any magazine that graced that shot on the cover. You're so good!

  14. says

    Your Grandma is just so plump proud of you right now as she's looking down at you and you're amazing talent. I can still see her pinching your cheeks and full of pride in everything you do.

    Such a marvelous day you had. We believe Martha chose a fabulous person to represent food bloggers, you. All food bloggers should be so proud.

    Wanna trade a bowl of your Gramdmas meatball soup for my Grandmas pineapple soup?

  15. says

    What a truly amazing experience for you. I was in the Martha audience the day you were on the show. It was enlightening and interesting to see how the show comes together.

    Thanks for the soup recipe. I love having a pot in the fridge for chilly autumn days.

  16. says

    I had albóndiga soup a week ago, the night of the election. It was the perfect food to eat after celebrating (mainly, I live in California so I was upset about Prop 8) ad running around in the cold.

    My mom made the soup and sent it with me to LA. She adds veggies like carrots and potatoes.

  17. says

    I'm late to this party but, wow! So much in this post. Beautiful picture (I've had to go back and look at it more than once), love the recipe (can't wait to try it), and that test kitchen looks like an amazing place to hang out.

  18. Stacy says

    Albondigas soup reminds me of my grandma too. Sad news, though–I made your version tonight and it is a step above that of my own dear sweet Nanita.

    I won't tell her, though. It is still close enough to remind me of the lady I love. Kudos to your grandma. She obviously had it going on.

  19. says

    It looks like bakso Indonesian beef meatballs soup. I'll try this one, it's perfect for this cold weather.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe Matt, and the photo above looks very beautiful and classy.

  20. says

    Great post! I like that EveryDay Food show and their magazines. Just wanted to say this recipe for Meatball Soup is right up my alley. I love all Mexican food and my daughter is crazy about soup – so definitely going to try this one.

  21. Miranda says

    thanks for the soup recipe! i love Albondigas so much. when i worked at the arizon inn in tucson (i worked down at the pool, which was surrounded by blooming gardenias) the chef would make the staff Albongigas as a treat and i miss it. can’t wait to make it myself!

  22. says

    So late, as usual, to the party.

    My neighbor (best neighbor ever) brought over a bowl of Mexican meatball soup that was so bright with its colors and flavors (I pity the fool who doesn’t like cilantro). I’d been doling out my own (seriously fabulous) turkey soup with shiitakes et al, but I only wanted to taste his soup, which he’d persuaded his friends to make.

    Even with packaged ingredients (jars of salsa and so on), it was delicious, and we’re planning to remake from scratch. Or as nearly as we can. The German neighbor (he’s early thirties) is a skilled cook, and we love to share our techniques. I’m really excited about this one, Señor A.

    XOX from chilly Soquel.


  23. Tracy says

    I’ve had this recipe tucked away for a while now and decided that today’s the day. It’s absolutely delicious! I used ground turkey instead of the other meat and ended up adding the entire can of diced tomatoes…didn’t have stewed. Thanks for sharing!

  24. says

    The Albondigas recipe is a winner. I’ve made it twice now. This weekend I doubled it for a group of nine; everyone loved it.

    I think it might be helpful to add the two eggs (for the meatball mixture) to the list of ingredients.

    Thanks for the great recipe.

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