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Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican Meatball Soup

Studded with zucchini, corn, and tomatoes, our brothy soup is comforting, especially on chilly evenings. Oregano flavors both the liquid and the meatballs.

Food & Wine JANUARY 1998

  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 zucchini (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten to mix
  • 1 cup fresh (cut from about 2 ears) or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Preparation

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and half the jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini,1 1/2 teaspoons of the dried oregano, if using, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin and cook, stirring, until the zucchini starts to soften, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, 1 1/4teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, garlic, the remaining jalapeño, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon of the fresh oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the bread crumbs, and the egg. Shape the mixture into 24 meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.

4. Add the meatballs and corn to the soup and simmer until the meatballs are just done, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, if using.

Wine Recommendation: The oregano, jalapeños, and cumin here would give most wines a run for their money, but a lusty red zinfandel is spicy and rich enough to face those powerful ingredients without flinching.

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