Turkey Albondigas Soup
This brothy bowl of Turkey Albondigas is like a big bowl of love. Tender turkey meatballs flecked with fresh mint float like islands in a sea of bone broth, carrots, white sweet potatoes, and other delicious veggies.
While versions of this traditional Mexican meatball soup vary widely, this one happens to be gluten, dairy, grain, egg, and nightshade-free. It's also Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) compliant.
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It All Starts with Good Stock
This soup provides a wonderful dose of gut, skin, hair, joint, and nail-nourishing bone broth. A good, rich stock (a.k.a. bone broth) is the foundation of any good Albondigas soup. The batch of stock I used for this was made primarily with chicken bones, plus a turkey neck and some duck bones I had stashed in the freezer after our holiday feasting.
Some of the best-tasting bone broth in my experience is made with a combination of poultry, beef, lamb, or even pork bones, so feel free to use what you have on hand, but I do think a 100% red meat broth would be overpowering here.
It's easy and far more economical to make your own bone broth, and chances are the quality and healing properties will be better too. But if you're in a rush, there are some wonderful pre-made bone broths available for purchase. Check both the soup aisle and the freezer section at your local market. I try to keep bone broth handy in the freezer, but in a pinch, I've used packaged bone broth.
It's important to source your bone broth carefully if you're going to use storebought. With bone broth being such a "trendy" health & wellness food, many companies have jumped on the bone broth bandwagon. I've tried a few that don't taste, look or feel like anything more than glorified regular broth, and are made with questionable amounts of actual bones from animals that may be industrially raised and not of ideal quality. It's important to read labels carefully and check online reviews.
True bone broth should be rich, a little bit sticky, and have a smooth mouthfeel from all the collagen, elastin, and gelatin. If it's really good, it should gel at cold temps. Many boxed or bagged bone broths don't. This is why the ideal is homemade, but for pre-packaged convenience made with quality ingredients, I like Kettle & Fire (from the pantry aisle) and Bona Fide (from the freezer section).
While there are many, many recipes for albondigas out there, two things seem consistent across the board: The use of fresh mint in the meatballs and the addition of white rice to bulk them up. Some insist that the Albondigas (which is Spanish for 'meatballs') must be bathed in a tomato-infused broth. I wanted to avoid that for those of you with nightshade sensitivities or those of you on elimination diets.
For the same reason, I replaced white potatoes with white sweet potatoes. If you tolerate nightshades and aren't on a diet that restricts you from eating white potatoes, those work well here too. I have also omitted the rice, substituting cauliflower rice to bulk up and add flavor to the meatballs. To bind the meatballs, I used cassava flour, which is my new favorite trick for gluten-free meatballs that aren't tough or dry.
I have taken some other creative liberties here while remaining true to my all-time favorite bowl of Albondigas from La Carta de Oaxaca in Seattle. For instance, I used spinach for this photoshoot, whereas zucchini is more traditional. Zucchini would be best here and it's what I recommend in the recipe, but when I prepared this we were quarantined and spinach was what I had on hand. Worked great!
That's what I love about cooking. You can almost always find a good substitute, and it's okay to be creative. If something's not working you can usually tinker around and fix it. With baking, not so much. That's why I prefer cooking to baking.
If you don't have zucchini, you can substitute kale, spinach, chard, or even cabbage.
Finally, I used a combo of fresh cilantro and mint to bulk up the herbs without overdoing it on that minty fresh flavor. The result was a thyroid-friendly home run. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Happy cooking, happy thriving, and enjoy the recipe (below)!
P.S. Need more thyroid-friendly recipe inspiration? I’ve got you covered. My Thyroid-friendly Everyday eCookbook features over 50 quick and easy, thyroid-friendly recipes your whole family will love. To take a peek at what’s inside, CLICK HERE.
Thyroid-healthy Recipe Highlights:
- Turkey provides several key thyroid-supporting nutrients including tyrosine, selenium, vitamin B12, potassium, magnesium, and iron. It also happens to be a good source of dietary iodine, which the thyroid requires to successfully make thyroid hormone. A 3-ounce serving of turkey contains approximately 34 mcg (23% DV) of iodine.
- Bone broth is one of the most highly recommended foods for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease. The collagen and glycine can help repair cell damage in the intestinal tract. It also supports hair, skin, and nail health, as well as our body's detox pathways.
- Carrots: 1 cup of carrots provides 428% DV of Vitamin A, which may be a key factor in preventing hypothyroidism.
- Zucchini is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, and Vitamin B6. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese. So many nutrients for the very low cost of 14 calories per half-cup serving!