One of the things I loved that my grandmother made was Albondiga Soup, which is a meatball soup made with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, mint, carrots and cumin. I love albondigas and making the meatballs is always fun. It’s the perfect soup for a cold day and kids love it because of the meatballs.
I wanted to make albondigas the other day but I didn’t want to use beef and I didn’t want to use rice. I’m trying to follow the excellent example of Rachel Braver and eat a little healthier, drop some weight and get fit. I am helping to raise my grandchildren and I want to be sure I’m around to do so.
I also want to be in good enough shape to run around the park with them so one of the things I am doing is taking old recipes and trying to modify them for this healthier, leaner lifestyle. Oh, I know I’m still going to have those days where I’m going to fix something very traditional and completely enjoy and revel in it, but those days are rare and for the day-to-day, I want leaner choices. I think it’s a good example to set for the two grandchildren in my care as well and helps them to create good eating habits that will serve them all their lives.
I started out with ground turkey and pondered long on what I was going to use to hold it all together. I came across a bag on ajonjolli or sesame seeds that I had used for something else and I wondered if the sesame seeds would serve in place of rice. I figured what the heck, and tried it. I also thinly sliced cauliflower into it thinking that it would give some texture and work almost like breadcrumbs to help hold the meatballs in shape.
I was pleasantly surprised. The combination of sesame seeds and cauliflower did work to hold the meatballs together and as an added bonus, gave the meatballs a subtle flavor with a hint of a soft crunch. It was a great way to sneak in cauliflower for the kids too! I also used a variety of green vegetables we had in the fridge to what ordinarily would have been a tomato based soup with carrot slices and was also pleased with the taste. They’re not my grandmother’s albondigas, but I’d think she’d approve.
Turkey-sesame seed Albondigas
For the meatballs:
1 pound of ground turkey
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
1 small golden onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic minced
a handful of parsley, chopped fine
1 oz. of ajonjolli or sesame seeds
thinly sliced cauliflower florets
thinly slice celery
1 shallot thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
dash ground cumin
Mix ingredients with ground turkey by hand till it’s all blended evenly. Shape into golfball sized balls and set aside onto a plate until ready to be put into the broth.
For the soup:
2 qts. of water or organic chicken broth
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 clove garlic
pinch of cumin
salt and pepper to taste
whole courgettes (small zucchini squash)
1 bunch of green onions, chopped into large pieces
Heat the water or chicken broth till it comes to a boil and add in seasonings, garlic, tomatoes, green onion and cilantro. Once it’s boiling, bring down the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes to let the flavors blend.
Turn the heat back up to medium and add the green vegetables.
Taking one meatball at a time on a spoon, slowly lower each one into the soup. Take your time and be careful so they don’t fall apart. If the soup temperature gets too cool, wait a few minutes till the heat is up again before adding more meatballs.
This recipe cooks a lot faster than traditional albondigas because there is no raw rice in the meatballs to cook.
Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked. Serve. I served ours with some red salsa I had made and a squeeze of lime.