We used to frequent a little Mexican restaurant when we lived in California many years ago, and they served their signature Albondigas Soup. It was just a little Mom and Pop restaurant but they had the best Mexican Food we ever ate. Their soup was our favorite and we ordered it every time we went there. I tried to get the recipe, but they would not give it to me. So every time I went there, I would sit with my bowl and try to dissect the ingredients. Then I would go home and try to make it. I got so very close, but there was something missing....One day, I asked the waitress what that little white thing was in my soup, was it garlic, and she said no, it was pine nuts. Aha, that was the missing ingredient! I was so excited! I went home and made the perfect clone of that soup. It is has been on our menu ever since, and now it can be on yours, too. Enjoy!
Make the meatballs first. In a large mixing bowl combine the lean ground beef, beaten egg, garlic, bread crumbs, pine nuts, salt and pepper and mix with your hands. I make a long rope of the beef on the cutting board about one inch high and then I cut slices about 1/2 inch wide. Take each slice and roll it into a meatball about one inch in diameter. This technique helps to have more uniform slices. Place all the balls in a bowl in the refrigerator.
Make the soup and add to a large soup pot, the tomatoes, beef broth, water, potatoes, carrots and onion. Add the chili powder, bay leaf, cilantro, salt. Mix well and bring to a boil and simmer until carrots are tender. You should see an orange ring begin to form around the pan from the chili powder. Add more if you like it hotter.
Add the meatballs a little at a time to the soup so it doesn't stop boiling, Don't boil on too high heat or it will tear up your meatballs. Simmer meatballs 30 minutes.
Add sherry before serving and stir gently. Put a dash of tobasco in each bowl before serving. Enjoy!
Cook's Tip: The original recipe I created was a clone of the restuarant's recipe, and it did NOT have carrots, onions and potatoes in it. It was a true meatball soup. I added those vegetables later to make a more hearty soup.