This recipe is from Marta, my lovely LA friend who recently moved to Massachusetts and now lives in apple orchard woody heaven. Her mother was Mexican, which speaks to the authenticity of this recipe. Also, she's one of the best cooks I know.
Marta says: My mother gave me this recipe, which was similar to one her mother used to make. It was found in a book on Mexican cooking by the California Culinary Academy. It is a winter staple for us. For best results make it the day before.
1 pound of lean ground beef (I use 85% lean)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon of fresh mint, minced or 1 tsp of dried mint, crushed
1 egg slightly beaten
½ tsp salt
1 pinch of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of raw rice
1 can whole tomatoes
Half an onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
6 cups chicken stock or water
2 carrots, sliced
2 zucchini sliced
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1. Place all the ingredients for the albóndigas in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Form small meatballs. Moisten your hands frequently with cold water to prevent the meat from sticking.
2. Drain the juice from the tomatoes and reserve. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Set aside.
3. In a soup pot, sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Slowly add the meatballs and bring to a second boil; skim if necessary. Reduce heat, add the tomatoes and their juice. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
4. Add carrots and zucchini. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes.