Sopa de Albóndigas (Colombian-Style Meatball Soup) Recipe

A soothing soup of beef meatballs poached in chicken broth. . J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Colombian-style meatballs are simple to make with the food processor and cook directly in a hot, seasoned broth. They're flavored with a mixture of onion and tomato known as hogao, along with capers. Crisp fried potatoes add texture to the finished soup.

Why this recipe works:

  • I modified my Aunt-in-law's recipe, which she makes with very lean Colombian beef, by adding more binder to keep the meatballs moist and tender.
  • The meatballs take a bit of time to shape, but once formed, there is almost no work: they cook directly in the hot soup.

Note: Fresh fried potatoes are the best, but if you want to save time, use packaged fried potato sticks.

Recipe Details

Sopa de Albóndigas (Colombian-Style Meatball Soup) Recipe

Active 45 mins
Total 45 mins
Serves 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 small bunch cilantro, divided

  • 1 1/2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus more to taste

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 Roma tomato, finely chopped

  • 1 large russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into thin matchsticks with a mandoline

  • 2 cups vegetable or canola oil

  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, roughly torn (about 1 ounce)

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck

  • 2 tablespoons chopped capers


  1. Pick 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and set aside. Combine broth, remaining cilantro stems and leaves, and Worcestershire sauce in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and more Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and keep warm.

  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomato, cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely soft and reduced to a thick purée, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl and place in refrigerator.

  3. Rinse sliced potatoes under cold running water until liquid runs clear. Transfer to a kitchen towel or paper towels and dry thoroughly. Heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add half of potato sticks and cook, stirring, until crisp but not darkly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl with a wire mesh spider and season with salt. Repeat with second batch of potatoes.

  4. Combine bread, egg, and heavy cream in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a smooth paste is formed, about 30 seconds. Add beef, capers, and a 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and process until completely smooth and homogenous, about 2 minutes. Add onion and tomato mixture and process until smooth, about 30 seconds longer. With wet hands, form mixture into 3/4-inch balls (you should have about 24 balls).

  5. Remove cilantro from pot of stock and discard. Add meatballs and cook until they float and a meatball cut in half is no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire mesh spider to transfer meatballs to a bowl. Skim fat from top of soup and pour soup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Serve immediately, dividing meatballs between warmed serving bowls, ladling soup on top, topping with fried potatoes and remaining picked cilantro leaves.

Special equipment

food processor, mandoline

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
326 Calories
22g Fat
15g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 326
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 74mg 25%
Sodium 1188mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 10mg 50%
Calcium 66mg 5%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 738mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)