Meatball Soup ~ Albondigas!

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by Nancy Newcomer

This week you are in for a treat! My dear friend Lisa Brown Casteneda is sharing her amazing recipe for Albondigas, or, for the gringos: Meatball Soup. Lisa and I go way back. Her older brother and I were classmates in elementary school, her mother was my Art and Yearbook teacher in high school, and her papa, “Big Daddy Erle” is like my second dad.

Miss Lisa and I have shared many good times over the years and I love her dearly. Five years ago, she  married her match, the sweet, wonderful Juan. I do believe her choice in a husband has influenced her style of cooking ~ we are lucky!  This girl is the QUEEN of her kitchen and knows how to cook.  I learn something new from her every day. She told me about this wonderful soup  and I suggested we share it with the B2K family. Well, my girl Lisa, who I affectionately refer to as the “Happy Hayward Housewife”, took the bull by the horns and wrote an entire blog for me with pictures!!  Here ya go…and may I say, she is quite humorous :) Love you, Lissy!


Love from the Happy Hayward Housewife:

This is not your Abuelita’s Albondigas!
Translation: This is not your grandmother’s Meatball Soup.

To celebrate my 5 year wedding anniversary I decided on a beautiful menu of Chicken Marsala, white polenta and a fresh vegetable medley. Then my husband came home from the dentist after his deep cleaning. Put the brakes on that Marsala, I’ve gotta change gears!!

Sore gums and tender teeth need SOPA or soup for the our non-Spanish speaking amigos!! Why not put a friendly spin on the traditional Albondigas or meatball soup. I was off and running, to Trader Joes for all the goodies.

My spin on the soup is really only adding more vegetables. My husband has a kidney condition which means he must watch his potassium intake. This puts a serious strain on cooking because all our go to favorites are high in potassium: tomatoes, potatoes, oranges, bananas, avocado, beans, lentils……you feel my pain. Also, all the hard winter squashes and limited intake of leafy greens. So my fear is usually that we don’t eat enough veggies. So with a soup I can disguise the ones he isn’t so crazy about and it still has his meatballs. Here is my recipe, hope you all enjoy!!

Sautee till soft:
1 med white onion
2 tabs garlic
2-3 stalks celery
1 bell pepper (any color)
This is the holy trinity plus the holy trinity in New Orleans – I was looking for maximum flavor PUNCH!

Because my hubby and I both have high blood pressure, I do not salt when I cook. I beg my ingredients to purge their natural flavors so I don’t feel like I need to add any salt.

In a bowl add:
1 lb. ground beef – leaner means less fat floating on top of your soup in the morning (get my drift? Always a startling sight the next day)
1 egg
1 teas. cumin
cracked black pepper
a couple handfuls of raw rice
6-7 mint leaves finely minced

Mix this together with your hands. If the mix is too wet, add more rice. Once at a good consistency to make meatballs, get rollin’! Don’t make them too small as the balls do experience some shrinkage! (hee hee)I generally end up with about 12 or so.

Back to the big pot. Your trinity should be translucent and now to add your chicken broth. If you have home made add that. I like to use the Trader Joes Organic Low Sodium, fat free, low calorie and gluten free Chicken Broth. 70 mg of Sodium in 1 cup. Other major “low sodium” brands still contain over 550 mg. of sodium in their broth. This stuff is “gold” in my house.

I add 3 boxes of the broth. Pour them in , put the fire on Medium and let it bring up to a rolling boil.

Once at a boil, take a slotted spoon and put meatball on spoon and lower into the boiling broth. Hold meatball on spoon until color of meat changes to that white cooked color. Continue this process until all meatballs have been submerged. DON’T STIR the soup as you’ll end up being a “ball breaker” and no body likes to do that!!

Lower heat to a simmer. Big boiling will disintegrate the precious meatballs……the star of our show!


Now for the Veggies!! In this soup today I added:

2 med. carrots sliced (Hubby doesn’t like cooked carrots – I wanted flavor and color)
2 med. zucchini sliced
2 med yellow squash

These cooked for a bit then I added:
couple handfuls of sliced mushroom
About a cup and a half of corn (mine was frozen which is why I added to the end)
About a half bag of frozen french cut string beans

Let cook a bit more on lowest flame possible. My last addition was a bag of organic baby spinach. Drop it in, submerge it and it’s wilted and cooked.

You are now ready to serve!! For presentation purposed I added a sprig of fresh mint to the center of the bowl. My husband added hot sauce to his soup before eating, must admit it adds a nice flavor since there is no added salt at all.


Typical albondigas includes squash, green beans, corn and Juan’s mom would include potato chunks. Like I mentioned, this is a take off of traditional albondigas and I use the soup as a vessel to include as many veggies as possible. The broth keeps all the nutrients lost in cooking so you still get it all. Have to say this soup is “Off the hook”!! A big ol’ bowl of “Damn that was slammin!”

Hope you all enjoyed a day in the kitchen life of a Happy Hayward Housewife!!

And that, my friends, is the only and only LB, The Happy Hayward Housewife!



Here’s a cute pic of us circa ’85-ish!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Aly October 25, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Wow! I want a Miss Lisa in my life!! What a dear and I love her voice!!! xoxox Ally


Nancy Newcomer October 25, 2011 at 7:05 PM

She is the best–and don’t you worry, she is already planning her next post!


Ally October 25, 2011 at 2:49 PM

PS…she’s adorable…give her a beeeg ol’ hug from Ally Cat! Great job!!!


Nancy Newcomer October 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

She is so fun & has a heart of gold~ the girl also makes me laugh until my sides split open!


Jeff Carlevaro October 25, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Beautiful job Lisa, and not a moment too soon. Seasons are soon to change here in SF and it will officially be soup weather again. Juan is a lucky guy…married a smart, funny, hot gal like yourself…and she can cook too. And you are quite correct…nobody likes a ball-breaker. Thanks for dinner, Lisa.


Nancy Newcomer October 25, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Lisa is fixin’ good stuff every night–I finally convinced her to take some pictures and I got more than I bargained for–a guest blogger! Lucky me, lucky Juan, lucky us! Jeff, she already has another recipe up her sleeve to share with us…apparently it’s TOP SECRET…even I don’t know what it is :)


Brittany Walters October 26, 2011 at 10:18 AM

I’ve only know Ms Lisa since ’06, but I have affectionately dubbed her, Mama Bear, over all us ladies at Chevron when the original crew worked there. She has ALWAYS been an amazing chef, and I love that I get to see her blog about it all now! Thank you Nancy for including her.. I LOVE your website and I’ve added it as a resource for my Celiac! :)


Nancy Newcomer October 26, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Perfect Brittany ~ Mama Bear aka “The Happy Hayward Housewife” is fab!


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