Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Comfort Meals: Arborio Rice "Albondiga" Soup with Black Eyed Peas

For a long time now I've been wanting to make a "albondiga" (meatball) soup. After reading several recipes I concluded it was best to just follow my gut instincts and stick with flavors I know work well together.

This recipe is not either Mexican, Italian, or southern but more a fusion of different cuisines. For example, the traditional Mexican "albondiga" soup is made with onions and rice.

My version uses arborio rice, and a "sofrito" of minced shallots, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes cooked in white wine that is later incorporated into the ground beef. 

The broth is created by using equal parts of vegetable, chicken, and beef stock instead of just using the traditional vegetable stock. Make sure you have at least 8 cups of liquid.

Add a 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, a few bay leafs, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, one dice potato, some celery and carrots to the broth and you are all set.


For the "albondiga" I like using extra-lean ground turkey instead of ground beef in order to keep it light and healthy.

Like a good latina, I seasoned the meatballs with "Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annato", chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked Spanish paprika, one egg, and of course a dash or salt and pepper.

To assemble the meatballs, in a medium bowl combine fresh cilantro, the garlic-shallots-and-sun-dried tomatoes "sofrito" and 1/3 cup of uncooked arborio (risotto) rice with the rest of the seasoning ingredients and shape the meat mixture into 20 to 22 (1-inch) meatballs.

To cook the meatballs instead of frying them is greasy oil let them poach in the broth. Basically once the broth reaches a boiling point you need to reduce it so you can add the meatballs with the rest of the vegetables and let them play nice ;)

This soup needs to be cook slow and gentle so the lower the heat the better.
To dress up the soup I added something that comes from my years living in the south, black eyed peas. I really love how they taste and how they elevate a humble soup from drab to fab. I did not used canned but rather fresh peas. Canned black-eyed peas are loaded with tons of sodium and preservatives so if possible try to keep it fresh.

The soup does not need any type of garnish. It is wonderful just they way it is, BUT since I absolutely love avocados, I decided to go Mexican and added a slice of avocado, multicolor tortilla chips and crumbled Mexican "queso fresco" on top (which I forgot to add in the last picture, my bad. I get hungry and have no patience for pictures lols!).

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that is dirt cheap, is super easy and taste divine. Is comfort food at it best. Even my finicky 9 year old ate the entire thing. He absolutely loved the crumbled "queso fresco" on top. 

This post is NOT about a recipe for a "soup" but rather a re-invention of what a comfort food should be like. I enjoyed this recipe so much that has now become one of my all-time favorite recipes to make at home.  

I really hope you give it a try. This recipe will turn you into a kitchen hero.Trust me, you are going to be amazed of how fast and easy it is.

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