30 by 30: Poblano Albondigas with Ancho Chile Soup

March 24, 2011 · 14 comments

in 30 by 30,beef,dairy-free,mexican/tex-mex,soups and stews

When I added albóndigas to my 30 by 30 list, I intentionally left it vague.  Albóndigas (meatballs) can be in soup, they can be in chile sauce, they can be poblano-sauced, they can be a lot of things.  I wasn’t sure which version I wanted to make, so I didn’t specify.  Well, at some point, I was going through the bazillion posts I had in my Reader and realized—oops—I already had an albóndigas soup recipe starred, one that Cara had adapted from Bon Appétit.  Looking at the original recipe, I instantly remembered why I starred it–it was a soup, and there were poblano pieces mixed right into the meatballs themselves and it’s in ancho broth. Score!

This recipe was great.  I am constantly delighted by ancho chile powder.  It does amazing things.  It’s just got such a deep, rich flavor.  It’s not very spicy at all, so do not be deterred by the amount.  Also, you really need to use pure ancho powder, because commercial chili powder has a lot of stuff in it besides ground chilis, one of which is cumin, and this soup is already pretty cumin-heavy.  In fact, I would probably reduce the amount of cumin the next time around by a bit, probably bringing the meatballs down to 2 tsp..  The only other change I would make to this soup is to reduce the amount of broth or to add more rice.  I thought 9 cups was excessive, but then I thought that with the rice absorbing so much of it, maybe it would turn out fine.  It was definitely too brothy for me (though leftovers, where the rice did absorb more broth, were better).  I think you could easily reduce it by 1-2 cups, but I’ve left the original recipe below since I’ve not tested the spice amounts with less broth (obviously the spices would be more concentrated).  Alternatively, you could up the amount of rice to 1/2 – 2/3 of a cup.  I did bake my tortilla strips rather than fry them, which is what I always do.

So, bottom line: I would make a few tweaks to this recipe, yes, but we still very much enjoyed it.  It’s rich, warm, and flat out tasty.  Although I’m way behind on completing it, I’m so glad I made the 30×30 list, because we’ve been eating so many great things that we otherwise may not have tried for years and years, or until Google Reader threatened to crash, forcing me to actually make those hundreds of recipes I’ve starred. :)

Poblano Albóndigas with Ancho Chile Soup

Adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 6 first course or 4 main course servings

Meatballs

2 large fresh poblano chiles (9 to 10 ounces total)
1 lb. ground beef (15% fat)
1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated onion
1/4 cup panko
1 large egg, beaten
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp. ground cumin*
1 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. pure ancho chile powder or pasilla chile powder (do not use blended chile powder)
2 tsp. ground cumin*
9 cups low-salt beef broth*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lime juice

Toppings

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4″ wide strips
cooking spray or a little canola oil
chopped cilantro

To make the meatballs: Char chiles over direct flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides.  Enclose in paper bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and steam 10 minutes.  Stem, seed, and peel chiles, then chop finely (should yield about 3/4 cup).  Place chiles in large bowl, and gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients.  Roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

To make the soup: Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, and add onion with any juices and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add chile powder and cumin and stir 1 minute. Add broth and oregano; bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to very low, just below bare simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

Stir zucchini and rice into broth. Increase heat to medium and drop in meatballs, 1 at a time. Return soup to simmer. Cover and cook gently until meatballs and rice are cooked through, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat to avoid boiling, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season soup with salt and add more lime juice, if desired.

To make tortilla strips:  Preheat the oven to 425.  Arrange strips on a baking sheet and spray with oil or toss with a little canola oil (and salt, if desired).  Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until crispy.

*see notes above recipe

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