Servings: 6-8

This meatball soup specialty has roots that go back to Spain.

“...While very popular as a home dish, often for holidays or homecomings, it is rarely seen on restaurant menus. ”


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ small onion, minced
  • 1 small celery rib, chopped fine
  • 1½ pounds ground lamb, beef, or veal, or a combination
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons blue cornmeal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexican azafrán, optional
  • ½ small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 14- to 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably “fire-roasted”
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Fresh mint leaves, optional


  1. Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and celery and sauté until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the meat, cornmeal, and egg. Scrape the onion and celery mixture into the meat followed by the remaining ingredients and stir together lightly.
  3. Form ¾- to 1-inch meatballs, packing the meat together lightly. If the meat mixture is sticking to your hands, rinse your hands regularly with cold water. You should end up with about 4 dozen small meatballs.
  4. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Sear the meatballs, in batches, until they are nicely brown, turning them frequently but gently. Drain with a slotted spoon and set aside on a platter.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of oil. Stir in the onion and sauté several minutes until translucent, then add the flour and cook for another minute.
  6. Stir in tomatoes and juice, stock, water, optional azafrán, meatballs, and any juices. Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the flavors blend and the meatballs are cooked through.
  7. Ladle into broad shallow soup bowls. If you wish, cut mint into very thin ribbons and shower over the bowls. Serve.