Poblano Albóndigas with Ancho Chile Soup

February 21, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Soup | 31 Comments
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One of my Christmas gifts this year was a subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine. I saw this recipe for Poblano Meatball Soup in the first issue I received and fell in love. 

While this dish is incredibly delicious, it is somewhat of a production to make. This Saturday was cold and snowy in Denver, so I couldn’t think of a better time to spend a couple of leisurely hours in the kitchen with this recipe. 

Pungent, earthy, cleverly spiced, complex, and just full of unexpected little delights, this soup will not disappoint. Not falling short in presentation, the brick-red color of the broth is really breathtaking. The meatballs are genius in many ways and the addition of grated zucchini adds a delicate moistness to their texture. So with all that said, here’s the recipe. 

The gathered ingredients in advance.  I’m a huge fan of poblano chilis. 

The Meatballs
2 large fresh poblano chiles (9 to 10 ounces total)
1 pound ground beef (15% fat)
1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated onion
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

For The Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder or pasilla chile powder* (do not use blended chile powder)
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 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Chopped fresh cilantro
*Available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.
Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Char chiles over direct flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag and steam 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and peel chiles, then chop finely (should yield about 3/4 cup).
Place chiles in large bowl. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet.
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion with any juices and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add chile powder and cumin; 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 by teaspoonfuls, if desired.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add half of tortilla strips. Cook until crisp, gently separating strips with tongs, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer strips to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, adding more oil if needed.
Ladle soup and meatballs into bowls. Top with tortilla strips and cilantro.

Fabulous.  Can’t wait for leftovers tonight and I’m sure as with most soups, it will be better the 2nd time around.



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  1. Looks great! We had a nice spring preview here in Birmingham. It was amazing. It is short lived though – Winter is coming back this week. 😦 I’ll need this soup to keep warm!

    • Thanks Steph, I think we’re in for a short Spring teaser too. Hopefully it will move your way.

  2. Pure Poetry!

  3. My mouth is on fire just looking at the photos!

    • LOL Tami, it’s really not that hot, it’s just got a little bite to it.

  4. That is a great looking bowl of soup and I can imagine the flavors. I’m glad you called them meatballs in your post as I couldn’t come close to pronouncing albondigas 🙂

    • Me either Bdude! As always, thanks for stopping by

  5. Still got room for me to move into the basement?

    • I don’t think you’d like it down there, you’d be next to all of those cold bottles of wine.

  6. Restaurant quality product you made! In a good way!

    • Thanks Buff, and as always, thanks for stopping by

  7. Yum, sounds delicious!
    For some reason I can’t see your pics today. Probably my naughty computer.
    Great score on the BA subscription!

    • I hope it’s your naughty computer and not something wrong on this end. If you’re interested, you can go to Bon Appetite and find the recipe along with a professional photo.

  8. YUM! I love the red broth and the beautiful ingredients. The way the meatballs are simmered as opposed to browned is nice, too, no crust on them. I can almost taste it! I make those little strip chips for my tortilla soup and always have to make extras because they’re tasty on their own. 🙂 This is such a beautiful post!

    • Thanks Vickie! This is a very good soup and I agree, those little strips are yummy.

  9. I loved Gourmet so much that I rarely looked at Bon Appetite. I used to and don’t know how I got turned off. And I still haven’t bought one. I know Gourmet used them to finish out subscriptions. I guess I better start looking at them since you found this recipe in it, Lea Ann.

    The soup looks full of flavor and I love the color! So many soups ARE a big production, but the final product is usually worth the effort!

    • I’m liking what I see in Bon Appetite, but then again, I never subscribed to Gourmet – darnit. Thanks for stopping by Barbara

  10. I’m a subscriber to BA and love it. I somehow overlooked this recipe,though, and it looks like a winner.

    • It was a feature about “Best meatball recipes” I want to try them all.

  11. Spectacular soup! I can imagine this would be perfect for anyone suffering springtime allergies 🙂 I am going to have to try this one out.

    • Thanks Chris. I thought it was worth the time and effort.

  12. This is the kind of soup my husband and I adore. It may be quite a production, but it sure looks worth it!

    • I thought it was worth it. It lasted for three generous dinners around here for just the two of us.

  13. Really terrific! I’m a magazine junkie. I wait until they send me offers for less than $12. Problem is, I have a hard time reading them all! 🙂

    • I agree Kristi. I subscribe to too many.

  14. Oh wow I bet this is delicious!

    • As always thanks for stopping by Cathy

  15. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

  16. We’re glad to know this recipe turned out so well for you, Lee Ann. I’ve posted a link to this article from the original recipe. http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2010/01/poblano_albondigas_with_ancho_chile_soup

    Karen Wilson
    producer, bonappetit.com

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