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Albondigas, Spanish for "meatballs," star in the traditional broth-based Mexican soup. Our version uses turkey rather than beef or pork.

EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2007; updated November 2022


Recipe Summary

45 mins
1 hr

How to Make Turkey Albondigas Soup

This version of albondigas soup features turkey meatballs, veggies and brown rice. Here are tips on how to make it:

Make Lean Ground Turkey Meatballs

Meatballs made with ground turkey are a lean alternative to beef or pork meatballs, provided you choose lean ground turkey. Keeping tabs on saturated fat for heart health? Lean ground turkey is a good choice. A mixture of whole-wheat breadcrumbs, egg, cumin and oregano keeps these meatballs moist, tender and flavorful.

Add the Veggies

This soup is loaded with healthy carrots, poblano peppers and plum tomatoes. If you can't find poblano peppers, substitute with two green bell peppers plus one minced jalapeño pepper (or more to taste).

Add the Meatballs and Brown Rice

Refrigerating the meatballs for at least 20 minutes helps them hold their shape when adding them to the soup. The meatballs are gently submerged in the simmering soup and cooked for about 8 minutes, then the instant brown rice is added and cooked for about 5 minutes until tender. We use instant brown rice to cut down on cook time, but you can also use cooked brown rice. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to cook brown rice perfectly.

Can I Make Turkey Albondigas Soup Ahead?

Yes, you can. Prepare the recipe through Step 2. Cover and refrigerate the soup and meatballs separately for up to 1 day. To serve, reheat the soup in a Dutch oven and proceed with Step 3.

Additional reporting by Jan Valdez


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Mix gently until combined. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer to the baking sheet. (You should have about 20 meatballs.) Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 20 minutes or until ready to use.

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add peppers, tomatoes, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Carefully submerge the meatballs in the simmering soup; return to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice. Garnish with jalapeno and cilantro.


Large rimmed baking sheet, Dutch oven


To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh crumbs.

Poblano peppers can be fiery or relatively mild; there's no way to tell until you taste them. You can find them at most large supermarkets. Alternatively, substitute 2 green bell peppers plus one minced jalapeño pepper (or more to taste).

Nutrition Facts

about 1 2/3 cups
257 calories; protein 27.6g; carbohydrates 27.2g; dietary fiber 5.5g; sugars 3.9g; fat 5.7g; saturated fat 1.9g; cholesterol 61mg; vitamin a iu 5502.2IU; vitamin c 12.8mg; folate 33.1mcg; calcium 42mg; iron 3mg; magnesium 34.3mg; potassium 627mg; sodium 842.2mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat