Monday, January 2, 2023

Winter Soup Night...Featuring Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup #soupnight #lightenup #healthy2023 #comfortfood

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 hearty soups that showcase healthy veggies and leaner cuts of meat. I recently made a lighter spin on classic Mexican albondigas (aka meatball) soup! My Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup features meatballs made with 96% lean ground beef...and a mix of cauliflower rice and a bit of brown rice. 

The mini meatballs are simmered with seasonal 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 stomach...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 -- don't drain
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tsp. heart-healthy oil (olive, canola, or avocado)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
For the meatballs:
  • 1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked cauliflower rice
  • 2 TBS seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion 
  • 1 tsp. heart-healthy oil
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano OR 1 tsp. dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Make the mini meatballs. Add the 1 tsp. oil to a Dutch oven over Med-High heat. Cook the 1/4 cup of onion for the meatballs until translucent -- about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef to a large mixing bowl. Add the brown rice, cauliflower rice, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, cilantro, oregano, sauteed onion, and salt & pepper. Completely combine the meatball ingredients. Roll the mixture into 36 small meatballs. Cover and refrigerate meatballs for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Add 1 tsp. of heart-healthy oil to the Dutch oven, then heat over Med-High heat. Brown half the meatballs and remove from Dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining teaspoon of oil and remaining meatballs. Set the browned meatballs aside. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot to the Dutch oven. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved meatballs back to the Dutch oven, on top of the vegetables.
Step 3: Add beef broth, diced tomatoes with chiles, and cumin to the mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a full rolling boilReduce heat to Med-Low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Add zucchini, give the  soup a stir, and cover. Cook an additional 25-30 minutes -- until the zucchini is cooked, but not mushy.
Step 4: To serve, spoon six meatballs in the bottom of a deep bowl. Top with some of the cooked veggies. Finally, ladle the broth on top. Just before serving, sprinkle each bowl with additional chopped cilantro.
This soup is so yummy and flavorful you'll never guess it's also lower in fat, carbs, and calories! The broth is richly flavored by the tender meatballs, veggies, and cumin. Chopped avocado would be a great heart-healthy garnish. 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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