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Smoky Spanish Albondigas Soup

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 4 to 5 as a main course

This is a lighter Spanish version of spaghetti and meatballs. Manchego and smoked paprika add depth of flavor while saffron dresses up the tomatoey broth.


  • 12 oz. ground veal
  • 12 oz. ground pork (preferably shoulder)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, 1 minced, 2 thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme; more for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. hot smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. manchego, finely grated
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron
  • 4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 380
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 160
  • Fat (g): 18
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 90
  • Sodium (mg): 490
  • Carbohydrates (g): 29
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 26


  • Using your hands, gently mix the veal and pork with the minced garlic, 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1/4 tsp. of the paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper in a large bowl. Add the manchego, egg, and panko, and gently mix until the meat absorbs the breadcrumbs.
  • To form the meatballs, set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1-1/2 -oz. portions of the meat into balls; you should get about 20. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add half of the meatballs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Pour off all of the fat. Add the remaining 1/2 Tbs. oil and the sliced garlic to the pot. Return the pot to medium heat and cook until the garlic sizzles, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, 1/8 tsp. paprika, and the saffron; cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Return the meatballs to the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the meatballs cook through (160°F), about 25 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well, return to the pot, and toss with 1/2 cup of the broth.
  • To serve, mound the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the meatballs and broth, sprinkle with the parsley and remaining thyme, and serve.


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Reviews (6 reviews)

  • butta211 | 03/16/2021

    Not sure what I did wrong here but this didn't work. Meatballs were dense, possibly could have been helped by soaking panko in milk. The broth was really bland also. I followed everything to the letter. I was really hoping for a great soup cause the picture looks fantastic. Also, very fussy because you need a fork for the noodles but a spoon for the soup. Won't make again, unfortunately.

  • mlawler1994 | 04/24/2016

    This is absolutely to DIE for! It's the most memorable dish I've ever had and so full of flavor. Everyone loved it! I can't wait to have it again! :D

  • blancb | 01/24/2016

    I was apprehensive at first to try this because of the saffron and the smoky paprika but this turned out to be one of our favorites! I served it with some garlic bread and we enjoyed this for two dinners. My wife rarely is satisfied with some of the things I make but she raved about this for days. I added it to my recipe box and will make it again soon!

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