Sopa de Albóndigas de Pollo (Chicken Meatball Soup) Recipe

María del Mar Sacasa


  • If you can't find sour oranges, substitute with 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice. For the meatball portion, substitute sour orange juice with 1 tablespoon orange juice and 2 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Culantro is an herb commonly used in Latin America and the Caribbean—it is sometimes referred to as serrated coriander and is available in some Latin American markets. Its flavor is similar to cilantro, but much more pungent. If you can't find it, substitute with cilantro (leaves and stems).
  • Broth, chicken, and meatballs may be made 1 day in advance.

Recipe Facts



Active: 60 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 8 servings

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  • For the Chicken
  • 1 (4-pound) chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 sour orange, split in half (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup packed culantro (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • For the Chicken Meatballs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons achiote paste or powdered annato
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups corn masa mix, such as Maseca
  • 1/2 cup culantro, finely chopped (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sour orange juice (see notes)
  • Cilantro and mint leaves for garnish


  1. For the Chicken: Place chicken in Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add onion, pepper, garlic, sour orange, culantro, mint, water, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming surface occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large plate. When cool enough to handle, use paper towels to remove chicken skin; discard. Shred chicken finely.

  2. Strain broth into large bowl. Discard solids and return broth to Dutch oven.

  3. For the Chicken Meatballs: Place onion, bell pepper, and cloves in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture is a fine paste. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion mixture and annatto and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

  4. Add corn masa mix, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups strained broth, culantro, mint, sour orange juice, and half the shredded chicken. Stir until thoroughly combined. Shape a single 1/2-inch ball of dough. Bring broth to simmer over medium-low heat. Cook meatball until it floats to surface and taste. Add salt to masa mixture if needed.

  5. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and add to simmering broth. Cook until meatballs float to surface, 6 to 8 minutes. Return remaining shredded chicken to broth to heat through. Divide meatballs among bowls and ladle broth over. Serve, garnished with cilantro and mint.

Special equipment

Dutch oven or large soup pot, strainer, slotted spoon, paper towels, food processor

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