Mexican Chicken Meatball Soup

I thought this recipe was only ok (mostly because of my own substitutions) but John was all about it. It’s a little time consuming but soothing. I though it needed a little orzo or pasta or something to round it out. I also had to bake the meatballs because I tried cooking them in the soup as the recipe suggested and they just fell apart. If you can find sour oranges, yay – I followed the substitution of half orange half lime.

1 (4-pound) chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered

1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered

5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 sour orange, split in half, or an orange and a lime, split

1/2 cup packed culantro (see notes above)

1/4 cup packed mint leaves

3 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

For the meatballs 

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1/2 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons achiote paste or powdered annato (I subbed turmeric and a bit of paprika)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups corn masa mix, such as Maseca (I subbed breadcrumbs which I think wasn’t ideal)

1/2 cup culantro, finely chopped

1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp orange juice

Cilantro and mint leaves for garnish

For the chicken

Place chicken in Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add onion, pepper, garlic, orange and lime, culantro, mint, water, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming surface occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large plate. When cool enough to handle, shred (remove skin).

Strain broth into large bowl. Discard solids and return broth to Dutch oven.

For the meatballs

Place onion, bell pepper, and cloves in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture is a fine paste. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion mixture and spices and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

Add corn masa mix (or breadcrumbs), 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups strained broth, culantro, mint, sour orange juice, and half the shredded chicken. Stir until thoroughly combined. Shape into balls.

Bake meatballs until cooked through (I did about 30 minutes on 350).

Add meatballs to simmering broth. Cook until meatballs float to surface, 6 to 8 minutes. Return remaining shredded chicken to broth to heat through. Divide meatballs among bowls and ladle broth over. Serve, garnished with cilantro and mint.

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