A bold and sassy soup recipe for vermicelli noodles with meatballs and chile peppers. Whole chile peppers simmer away in a freshly pureed tomato broth to give this soup outrageous flavor. The vermicelli is also cooked right in this spicy sauce where it imbues itself right into the noodle. The meatballs are simply seasoned and simmered separately in water which later gets mixed into the tomato broth to finish the soup.
You might think the meatballs would be the star of the show here. But truly the chile peppers fill that role. Without them this soup is nothing. The chile peppers are cooked whole with the stems left on so the seeds don’t escape to make it unbearably hot. For some. Serve up a pepper to anyone who wants to make their soup hotter. They can break open the pepper and stir the seeds right in. It’s all about control.
If in fact you have leftovers, the noodles will slurp up every bit of the liquid. But it’s ok. This is so insanely good I can promise you won’t care. You can get two meals out of it, the first will be a soup, the second will be spaghetti and meatballs. Tex-Mex style.
I admit I didn’t like the ‘looks’ of this once it was finished. And I was concerned about the meatballs being bland. I had taken liberties with the very simply seasoned recipe adding spices to it like oregano and chile powder. But I was very surprised. I can’t convey how good this is. The sauce is everything, adding to the meatball exactly what it needs. If you like fiery hot foods you will love this. It packs an explosion of flavor that’s spicy, hearty, warming and just indescribably delicious.
Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs: Fideos con Albondigas
(adapted from The Los Barrios Family Cookbook)
1 + 1/2 pounds ground beef (80-85%) or turkey
1/2 cup white rice, cooked
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed between fingers
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 small onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4-6 fresh chile peppers with stems attached, Serranos are recommended
12 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-2 inch pieces
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 teaspoons Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, for serving
1. Fill a large soup or stock pot with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine all the meatball ingredients. Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Add carefully to the boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a separate large soup pot or sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, green peppers and the whole chile peppers. Saute until onion is translucent. Add the vermicelli. Toss the vermicelli around for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
4. Add tomatoes, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin and pepper to a blender along with a cup or two of the meatball broth. Use a towel to hold top of blender down and puree until smooth. Add to the vermicelli and put back on medium-low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until vermicelli are cooked through, stirring often and adding meatball broth as needed. Taste broth and season with salt if desired.
5. Carefully add meatballs and their broth to the vermicelli mixture, stirring well. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro and with warm corn tortillas or thick, crusty bread.
*I used green cayenne peppers.
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