Cooking is a huge part of las tradiciones de mi familia. I grew up in intergenerational homes (living with mis abuelos, tías, tíos, primos and primas, etc.) on both my mom and my dad’s side and cooking is one of the ways we’ve always celebrated and connected. Big cook-outs, potlucks, barbecues, dinners – my dad is as good a cook as my mom and both were taught by their parents and grandparents, like I was. For me, it’s a form of connection not just to each other, but to our ancestors, to our history, to the tastes and traditions that would otherwise be forgotten. Food is memory, reverence, joy, connection, pleasure.
This recipe in particular is my go-to comfort food. It’s hearty and will make your nose and eyes run the entire time you’re eating it, which is exactly what I want when I’m in need of comfort. My family doesn’t really do measurements so I can’t really tell you how much of what to add – lo siento. We just get plenty of everything and keep adding until it looks/smells/tastes good. Same with spices – and I couldn’t tell you all the spices we use, because I don’t really know unless I’m actively making it. You just add whatever it needs – we’re an “every spice in the cabinet” kinda familia, you know? You should also expect to need two of your largest pots to hold all the sopa by the time you’re done en la cocina. We feed armies in our kitchens. . I didn’t start making this myself until I was grown, but I grew up in the kitchen as much as anywhere else – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. All my favorite people were there and they were doing magic. I wanted to do magic too.
Your broth should be a rich red color and your veggies cooked through. If your broth isn’t rich enough (in taste or color!), add more tomato sauce and spices. Watch out for the spices that have salt though, like adobo and seasoned salt.
- Ground Beef
- Seasonings (adobo, seasoned salt, black pepper, paprika, & chili flake are my go-tos)
- 1 egg for about every 1-1.5 lbs of meat
- Tomato Sauce (a couple large cans)
- El Pato Sauce (a couple small cans)
- Seasoned Salt
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Smoked Paprika
- Red pepper flakes
- More seasonings by taste
- Red Rice
- Lemon Wedges
Optional: Mexican (Red) Rice:
- Long Grain Rice
- Canola Oil
- Tomato Sauce
- El pato Sauce
- Seasoned Salt
- Black Pepper
- More Seasonings by Taste
- First make the meatballs (albóndigas). Mix the meat with spices, minced garlic, minced onion, and egg by hand.
- Form ½ - 1 inch sized balls and put into a large stock pot (olla).
- Fill with water and cook over low heat, simmering until meatballs look about 2/3 done.
- Add vegetables in order of cooking time – first potatoes and carrots, then celery last, after the root vegetables have cooked for a bit.
- While the vegetables are still simmering, add tomato sauce and el pato sauce and season to taste. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
While the meatballs are simmering, you can make the red rice.
- Put oil, garlic, onion, and rice over medium heat.
- Add spices and cook until the garlic and onion have browned and the rice grains have changed color a bit.
- Add tomato sauce and el pato sauce and stir.
- Add an appropriate amount of water in a 1:2 ratio (1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water).
- Season to taste.
- Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer over low heat until all the broth has been absorbed.
- Fluff with fork or spoon to ensure all moisture has been absorbed, remove cover, and allow to cool.
Put rice and cheese in your bowl and pour soup over the top. Top with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.