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A homestyle soup I make often.The recipe looks long and tedious,but that's just because I've spelled it out step by step.Keep in mind this is usually a last minute meal and so it's a very fly-by-the -seat-of -your pants recipe and is open to a lot of variation and substitutions.Feel free to use less garlic,and the cumin,oregano,and chile are really just to taste as well.You may not want to use 1whole tablespoons of cumin or chile.Use your instinct and taste as you go.Note:I like the flavor of the roasted tomato sauce but you can make the sauce with tomato puree if you want to save time.Any pasta shape you like will work.I usually have macarroni or penne.If you use something smaller like angel hair,stars,or alphabet noodles watch them carefully so they don't overcook.This is nice with some eggs poached in the broth,especially if you need to stretch the meat you have and make this feed more people.Add them when the meatballs are all but done and just make sure the broth is barely simmering .Serve with lime halves to squeeze into the broth.Yield is approximate.
- 1 very large yellow onion (or two smaller onions)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed, roasted, and ground
- 2⁄3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
- 1⁄2 lb ground beef
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1⁄2 cup cracker crumb (I use saltine crackers,dry breadcrumbs may be used)
- 2 lbs roma tomatoes (about 8 )
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 2 tablespoons ground dried chile, arbol powder
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces macarroni noodles (or penne,stars,any shape you like)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 carrots, sliced very thinly
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 6 -8 cups beef broth or 6 -8 cups water, as needed
- 3 limes, cut in half
- Peel the onion and cut in half.Mince enough onion to make about two tablepoons-mince very finely and set aside.Chop about 1/4 of the onion(or 1/2 if using two small onions),set aside.Peel 2 cloves of the garlic and mince.
- Roast and grind the cumin seeds.
- Wash,dry,and chop the cilantro finely.
- Mix the meat,2 tablespoons minced onion,minced garlic, about 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin,about 2 teaspoons cilantro,the egg,and the cracker crumbs.Season generously with fresh black pepper,and if desired salt.Set aside.
- Make the tomato sauce:Heat a cast iron skillet or grill over medium heat until very hot.Add about 1/2 of the garlic cloves,unpeeled.Roast,turning occasionally,until they have black spots on each side.Remove from the pan.Add the unchopped onion,cut into very large chunks.Roast about 5 minutes ,without turning.After 5 minutes,turn to check.They should be blackened.Repeat for other side.You can place them in the pan at the same time you begin roasting the garlic if your pan is large enough.They should be done a few minutes after the garlic.It is not necessary for the onion to cook through,just to soften a bit and have black spots on the outside.Peel the garlic and place in a blender jar with the onion.
- Turn heat up to medium high.Place the whole tomatoes in the same pan and roast until blackened on one side,flip and roast on other side.Tomatoes should be quite soft and may have burst where they are blackenet.Place in the blender with the onion and garlic.Set aside to cool a few minutes.
- Peel the remaining raw garlic and add to the blender.Add cumin,salt,pepper, chile powder,and Mexican oregano to taste.Add about 1 cup water or broth and blend to a smooth puree.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium.When hot,add the dry pasta,lower heat to medium low,and cook,stirring often,until the pasta has begun to brown lightly .Add the reserved chopped onion and the carrots and the bay leaf and continue sauteeing,stirring,until the onion and carrots soften .
- Add half of the sauce and enough water or broth to cover the pasta by about 2 inches.Raise heat to bring to a boil.
- Let pasta simmer until it is al dente;the time will vary according to the size of your pasta-do not remove pasta from the pot.
- Form small meatballs and add to the pot of boiling soup.If you have room it is best to do this in one batch.I use about 1 tablespoon of the mixture to form each meatball.
- Add the remaining sauce and the cilantro.Cover the pot,and lower the heat slightly.Check after about 3 minutes,you may need to turn the meatballs so they cook evenly.
- Continue cooking until the meatballs are cooked through and have no pink in the middle.This may take about 7 minutes(again this depends on how large you made the meatballs).
- Serve hot with limes to squeeze into the broth.