Remembering Nana

comments 7
Mexican / Soup
Albondigas Soup

Everyone in my family has a speciality dish. My late Nana (grandmother) was the undisputed Albondigas champion. She spent most of her life in the kitchen. I can still see her short stature and experienced hands rolling out tortilla dough. She made tortillas from scratch everyday. I remember how her greasy glasses would fall from her nose frequently as she stood over the stove. She brought me into the kitchen when I was young to cook together. I was the prep chef while Nana did the actual cooking. We would talk about owning a restaurant together. We even had the name picked out, “Nanitas.” I didn’t know then how these moments together would shape my love for cooking. My recipe writing and cooking is inspired by a compilation of memories and experiences. Every meal I blog about is attached to a fond memory. It’s been three years this month since we lost my grandmother. I honor her memory by emulating her. My Albondigas will never be as good however, after some trial and error and help from my mother I’m glad to share this recipe. I am proud of this one and I think my Nana would be too.

Nana Minnie

Time-2 hours


Ingredients for Albondigas

24 ounces of ground veal, 16 ounces of ground pork, 2 large eggs, 1/2 white onion diced, 4 garlic cloves minced, 3/4 cup of dried cotija cheese, 25 or more mint leaves finely chopped, 2 tablespoons of cilantro finely chopped, 2 tsp of kosher salt, 2 tsp of crushed pepper, 1 tsp of black pepper, and 1 cup of white rice but will only need 1/2 cup for meatball the rest is used in soup.

Ingredients for Soup

1/2 white onion chopped, 2 celery chopped, 1 carrot medium chop, 2 green zucchini large chop, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1 large russet potato peeled and large chop, 1 12.5 ounce can of petite diced tomato in juice, 1 Bay leaf, 7 cups of water, 1/4 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of mexican oregano and 2 tsp of Kosher Salt. Garnish with rice, avocado, mint and cilantro. A squeeze of lime over avocado and soup is high recommended.

Preparation of Albondigas

In a sauce pan cook long grain white rice. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice to a boil. Add lid and lower heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off burner and lift lid when cooked and allow rice to cool.

In a large bowl combine all the listed ingredients for Albondigas. Only add 1/2 cup of rice into meatball mixture. Form meatballs into golf ball sized balls. You should get a minimum of 12 meatballs. That would be 3 large albondigas each.

Albondigas mixture

In a large pot add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot and place the burner on medium heat. When the oil is hot brown the meatballs in pan and set aside. It’s important to brown in batches. If the meatballs are sticking add more oil.

Browned and set aside

Once meatballs are browned empty oil and scrape excess browning but don’t place under water to clean. Leave a little bit of the browning marks for flavor. Your pot should look like this.

Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add onions, celery, and carrots to pot. Soften for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic just until fragrant then add can of diced tomato. Sauté until all the liquid is evaporated. Incorporate the meatballs, zucchini, potatoes and water. Add kosher salt, bay leaf, cumin, and oregano. Bring pot to a boil then add lid and reduce burner to low for 20-30 minutes. Once soup is ready taste broth for salt add if desired.

When plating albondigas it’s traditional to add a tablespoon of white rice to the bottom of the bowl then ladle the soup into it.

Garnish with mint, cilantro, avocado and lime.

Enjoy this soup with someone you love. I just know that my Nana is fine as dandy and sweet as candy. She would always say that when we asked how she was. This ones for you Nana from your little Nanita.

The Author

First off, I'm not a writer. This should be abundantly clear as you read this bio. I'm not a trained Chef either. I'm a Mother, Wife, Registered Nurse and Fraudulent Chef. Why a blog you ask? Well, I don't want to be a line cook, executive Chef, or a restaurant owner. I just want to cook what I want, when I want, and for who I want. Cooking is a creative outlet for me. I don't even consider myself a blogger because I don't blog often. So advertising dollars and web fame is not my motive. Finding the time to cook, write up a recipe, photograph it while maintaining a job and household is challenging. However, it has given me great joy over the years to see people carrying on dishes that I've developed. It's also an online cookbook that I can reflect on. My cooking is an expression of the strong women in my life and inspired dishes from my favorite restaurants. I'm a recipe impostor of dishes from restaurants I love. Furthermore, many of the recipes are spruced up from my childhood. I'm a Mexican-American, native Californian who has spent time in New York and married a first generation Costa Rican. My cooking reflects all of these aspects. Karen's Kitchen is not a Mexican food blog. As much as I'd like to fit into a pretty little red, white and green box. I find it too limiting and reject the notion of creating a Latino point of view because it makes a blog cohesive. So my recipes are all over the place, with no rhyme or reason. Home cooks never apologize for not graduating from culinary school. You will find that my recipes are easy to follow and geared for the home cook. They look amazing and will make you look like a Domestic God/Goddess in front of your loved ones. It's my hope that you find the love for cooking and make some of my recipes your own. Cheers to cooking, eating and surrounding yourself with lovely people.


  1. Michelle meza says

    This is amazing now I want to make it !!
    Nana always cooked with love for us just like you do Karen that’s why your so passionate n good at it love you 😘

  2. Judy Pina says

    What a beautiful lagacy you carry for the most influential woman in my life. I’m so proud to see the passion for cooking you enjoy crom this wonderful woman. Your such a great cook Karen.

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