Photo credit Jackie Alpers
Prep Cook Yield Ready In
25 minutes 45 minutes 4-8 servings 1 hour 10 minutes

This Matzah Ball Soup Recipe Is a Taste of the American Southwest

Albondigas in broth was brought to the Sonoran region by the Spanish and is served at restaurants all over Tucson today.

Albondigas are small meatballs commonly served in a broth flavored with chilis and vegetables. The dish was brought to the Sonoran region by the Spanish and is served at restaurants all over Tucson in different iterations, including chicken, turkey, beef, shrimp and fish. 

One year, inspired by Passover, I decided to personalize my version of this popular soup by swapping out the meatballs for matzah balls, and my Matzalbondigas was born.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona” by Jackie Alpers. Published by West Margin Press; April 20, 2020.


For the matzah balls:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 packet matzah ball mix (2½ oz), I use Manischewitz
  • 1 Tbsp dried onion flakes

For the soup:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small white onion, diced (about ½ cup) 
  • 1 cup chopped white button or cremini mushrooms
  • 6 large, dried New Mexico chilis
  • 8 cups water
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth or stock 
  • ½ cup dry red wine 
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt, preferably Sonoran 
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. To prepare the matzah ball mixture, whisk together the eggs and olive oil in a medium bowl. Pour in the matzah ball mix and dried onion flakes and stir until well combined. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots and onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
  3. Break the stems off the dried chilis and shake out the seeds. Discard the stems and seeds. Boil the chilis in 4 cups of the water until soft, about 12-15 minutes. Blend the softened chilis, 1 cup of the cooking water and garlic in a blender until smooth.
  4. Add the pureed chili mixture to the pot. Add the broth, red wine, remaining 4 cups of water, cilantro, Mexican oregano, tomato paste, 1 tsp salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Take the matzah ball mixture out of the fridge. Wet your hands and form approximately eight 1½-inch-balls, plopping them one-by-one into the boiling broth after you form them. Cover the pot tightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes undisturbed. Remove one matzah ball and cut it in half; the texture should be light and fluffy. If not, continue to simmer for a few more minutes. 
  6. To serve, divide the matzah balls among serving bowls and ladle the soup over the top. Garnish with Cotija cheese (optional). 

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