Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Soup Night...Featuring Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup #soup #lightenup #meatballs #texmex

If you're like me...January is time to forget about holiday (over)indulgences and focus on eating healthier in the new year! Indulging is definitely fun...but eating that way long term isn't good for my health...or my waistline! When the weather turns chilly, I love making filling soups that feature  healthy veggies and lean meats. I recently made a lighter spin on classic Mexican albondigas (aka meatball) soup! My Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup features meatballs made with 93% lean ground beef and rice. 

The mini meatballs are simmered with several healthy veggies in a flavorful broth. This soup is bursting with the big flavors we love! The spice level in this soup is moderate, so even those of you who are spice-averse will love it. To save yourself some prep time, the meatballs can be made up to a day ahead. Simply store them in the fridge in an airtight bowl until you're ready to cook the soup. This is the kind of soup that will fill your tummy...and keep you toasty warm...on the chilliest of Winter days!

Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup
adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Ingredients (makes 6 servings):
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 12-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tsp. heart-healthy oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
For the meatballs:
  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice + 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion 
  • 1 tsp. heart-healthy oil
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro -- can sub parsley if you dislike cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Make the meatballs. Pour the boiling water over the rice and soak for 20 minutes. While the rice soaks, add 1 tsp. heart-healthy oil to a Dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook 1/2 cup onion until translucent -- about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef to a large mixing bowl. Drain the water from the rice and add to the mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs, egg, cumin, cilantro/parsley, oregano, sauteed onion, and salt & pepper. Completely combine the meatball ingredients. Roll the mixture into 36 small meatballs. Cover and refrigerate the meatballs for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Add 1 tsp. of heart-healthy oil to the Dutch oven over med-high heat. Brown half of the meatballs and remove from the Dutch oven. Repeat with another tsp. of oil and the other half of the meatballs. Set the browned meatballs aside. Add the final tsp. of oil to the Dutch oven -- along with the onion, garlic, and carrot. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked meatballs back to the Dutch oven, on top of the vegetables.
Step 3: Add the beef broth, diced tomatoes and chiles, and cumin to the Dutch oven. Add salt & pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a full rolling boil to ensure the rice in the meatballs completely cooks. Reduce heat to med-low, cover, and cook the soup for 45 minutes. Add the zucchini. Give the  soup a stir, cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Step 4: To serve, spoon six meatballs in the bottom of a bowl. Top with some of the cooked veggies. Finally, ladle some of the broth on top. Just before serving, sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro.
This soup is so yummy and flavorful that you'll never guess it's also lower in fat and calories! The broth is richly flavored by the meatballs, veggies, and cumin. The meatballs are moist and flavorful -- and the rice gives them additional texture and flavor. This soup is truly a meal in a bowl! If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, they taste even better the next day after hanging out in the fridge overnight.

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