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Mexican Meatball Soup

mexican-meatball-soup

Mexican meatball soup photo by vsimon

Soup for supper? This soup is hearty enough. Garnish with diced avocado and serve with cornbread or corn chips. Ah, comfort food.

Keep it simple

This was a tasty recipe as written. But I simplified it a bit, using a convenience ingredient available in the freezer section. It is a diced blend of onion, celery and sweet pepper.

I use it all the time to cut down on chopping (ha-ha). If you love the meditative rhythm of chopping, you can use 3 cups total of diced raw onion, celery and bell pepper. Any combination will do.

Keep it healthy

Super lean ground beef works well here. These little meatballs made with cornmeal are so tender. No need for greasy high fat ground meat. So I omitted the ground pork found in the original recipe.

And I subbed cooked whole grain brown rice for the white rice. I always cook this in a pressure cooker because it is fast and easy. It may be time to make friends with one.

Or, if you are not ready to make that first step yet, you can cook a batch of brown rice on the stovetop. Cool, and freeze some to add later to soups like this. It can go right from the freezer into the soup pot.

Keep it gluten free

Read the label on the salsa if you buy it instead of make it yourself. Most are gluten free, but check.

Mexican Meatball Soup with Rice and Cilantro

Adapted from a recipe on epicurious.com by Jill Cole of Fallbrook, California.

Servings: 6 to 8 supper servings.

Ingredients metric measures
10 oz frozen chopped onions/ celery/ pepper blend 300 gm
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 gm
3 cups water                                  720 ml
1 28-ounce canned or jarred diced tomatoes in juice 800 gm
1 pound lean ground beef .5 kg
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal 55 gm
1/4 cup liquid, milk or water 60 ml
1 large egg 50 gm
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 gm
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice ? Can you tell me?
1/2 cup chunky tomato salsa 120 ml
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 20 gm

salt and pepper to taste 

diced avocado to garnish, optional                       

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion blend and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes.

Add water and tomatoes with juices. Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, make meatballs. Combine ground beef, cornmeal, liquid, egg, salt, pepper, and cumin, in a medium bowl. Mix well.

Shape meat mixture into little ½” balls. Add meatballs to simmering soup as you shape each one. Gently stir occasionally to keep them from clumping together.

Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Add cooked rice, salsa, and most of the cilantro. Save a bit of cilantro for a garnish if you like.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

We like thick soups, but you can add additional water to desired consistency. Cook a bit longer if needed to warm it up.

Pour into soup bowls and garnish with diced avocado.

Leftovers? Heat them up in the morning and put in a thermos for lunch.

New info on rice

Arsenic in some rice? Really? Darn! Do I need to be concerned?

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, writes a blog called Living Gluten Free at diet.com. Tricia is an expert on gluten free ingredients and labeling. A recent post is called Gluten-Free Diet, Arsenic, and Rice.

As noted in Tricia’s post, cooking rice in large volumes of low arsenic water and draining off the water can lower the arsenic content of the finished rice. See a scientific abstract at ScienceDirect titled Arsenic burden of cooked rice: Traditional and modern methods.

Bottom line: I am not overly concerned about the levels of arsenic in rice. I will continue to enjoy whole grain rices. And I will continue to cook it in a pressure cooker without lots of extra water. But my diet is not based on rice or rice flour.

Enjoy the large variety of gluten free ingredients, don’t get stuck on just a few. There are many gluten free whole grains and flours to choose from.

And in this recipe, you can omit the rice if you like. The soup will not be as thick, it will still be tasty.

5 Responses to “Mexican Meatball Soup”

  1. It Happened This Week: Fall Foliage, Eating Well On The Road, Arsenic in Rice, Omega-3s, and FFTW | Zero Cellulite says:

    [...] the gluten-free among us who may be eating much more rice than the rest of us.  Thanks to Linda at Kitchen Therapy for that [...]

  2. I love tomato-based soups without a lot of cream, so this looks great!

  3. Marsha @ Green Mountain at Fox Run says:

    The recipe looks wonderful! Love how you made it healthier at no risk to its taste. And thanks for the heads-up re arsenic in rice. Like you, I don’t have a rice-based diet so won’t worry about it too much. Although I will start rinsing brown rice before I cook it. Is it still true you rinse off B-vitamins if you wash white rice before cooking? If so, maybe that’s still not a problem if you eat other good sources of B-vitamins.

    • rdlinda says:

      Hi Marsha,
      Most white rice in the US is enriched with three B vitamins and iron. These will be reduced if the rice is rinsed.

      The USA Rice Federation states: “Most U.S. rice is enriched with iron, niacin, thiamin, and folic acid. Rinsing rice, or cooking rice in excess water and draining, results in loss of enrichment and other water-soluble vitamins and minerals.”

      As to whether it is a problem or not, it depends on how your total diet. Just as you say, we can get B vitamins from many sources. These include a variety of whole foods and supplements.

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