National Hispanic Heritage Month: September 15th – October 15th

National Hispanic Heritage Month

I was reminiscing about one of my first cookbooks. I think I got it at a garage sale. It was, Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes by Elena Zelayeta.

Barriga Llena, Corazon Contento. Full Stomach, Happy Heart.

Spanish Food Saying

I want to say the very first recipe I made from her book was Arroz con Pollo. A red rice and chicken dish. In Peru we make ours with green rice flavored with cilantro. A second dish I made was her Sopa de Albondigas recipe (meatball soup). I grew up eating albondigas, but my grandmother would add few different spices then the typical Mexican dish. I really love making albondigas, because you can make it with many different variations. You can add rice, breadcrumbs, or bread slices to your meatballs. Sometimes I will add the onion and tomato into the meatball and other times they will just be in the sauce. Sometime I’ll blend the sauce and other times I’ll leave it chunky. The one thing I always do is service it with steamy white rice. Below is one version of my albondigas recipe you can start out with, but then feel free to experiment with different meat mixtures, spices and herbs.

Simple Peruvian Albondigas

A base Peruvian Meatball recipe that can be adapted with various meats, fillings, spices and herbs.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 4


  • Dutch Oven or Soup Pot The larger the base, the more meatballs you can brown at one time.


Meat Balls

  • 1 lb Ground Beef ok to mix 1/2 ground pork or substitute with ground turkey
  • 1 each Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 2 each Bread Slices any sliced sandwich bread will work
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Paprika

Base Sauce

  • 2 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 each Yellow Onion diced
  • 2 each Medium Tomatoes about 2 cups diced
  • 2 1/2 Cups Beef Stock or just water
  • 2 Tbls Oil olive, avocado, or vegetable
  • 1 Tbl Cumin
  • 1 Tbl Paprika
  • 2 tsp Salt Add to taste. You may need less if using a salted stock.



  • Measure out your spices and set aside.
  • Mince your garlic and set aside.
  • Dice your onion and tomatoes then set them aside separately.
  • Add milk to bread and mix with your hands

Prepare Meatballs

  • Grab a sheet tray and set aside next to your pot.
  • In a medium mixing bowl add your meat, egg, bread mixture, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Mix with your hands until you you get an even consistency. I like to let the meat sit out about 5 minutes before I start mixing so that it is not too cold on my hands.
  • Once it is all mixed, start making little round meatballs. Grab a small golf ball sized or bigger in your hands and roll it around until it makes a ball shape. Place the balls back into the bowl on one side.

Cook the meatballs

  • Place your dutch oven on medium high heat and add the oil.
  • Once oil is hot add your meatballs in a single layer across the base of the pot. Let them brown on one side then turn them to brown on the other side. Once all meatballs are browned, remove them from the pot and set aside.
  • Keeping the pot on medium heat, add a little oil, if it needs it. Let it warm then add your onions. Stir the onions until translucent then add the garlic, cumin, and paprika. Stir for another minute then add in the tomatoes. Let tomatoes soften about 2 minutes.
  • Add back the meatballs and pour in the broth. The liquid should only barely cover the the meatballs. Stir everything around, bring to a boil. Once to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until meatballs are cooked through about 20 minutes.
  • Serve over white rice or you can eat it just how it is.


This is a base recipe.  You can get creative and use panko or other breadcrumbs.  You can use cooked riced instead of bread.  And you can add herbs, cilantro, parsley would go really well with this.    
If you have picky eaters, you can removed the cooked meatballs and blend the broth until smooth then add the meatballs back into the blended broth.  This is what I would do for my kids that said they didn’t like tomatoes and onions.
Keyword Albondigas, Meatball Soup

Here are a few more books, fiction and non-fiction to help you celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. These selected books are written by Hispanic authors. A few of them I have read, a few I have cooked from and one of these I even go to cook with the author! It’s probably no surprise that I have cooked from Peru, Ceviche and Andina. The Chef author I got to cook with was Gonzalo Guzman from Nopalito!

National Hispanic Heritage Month Booklist

Wishing you a full belly and happy heart!

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