In the summer of 2007, months before getting hitched and while taking a break from grad school I traveled to Costa Rica for eight glorious weeks. I went through a Spanish immersion program and would recommend it to anyone. I was able to stay in each of the three cities they have the program, loved the culture, enjoyed the food, and retained some of the language.
One dish I enjoyed and am sharing today is the Sopa de Albondigas or Meatball Soup. This is a basic recipe with veggies that is perfect for a cold day. It includes chayote, a vegetable (or is it a fruit…I’m not so sure!) I was introduced to in Costa Rica. It does not have that strong of a taste and in this soup I usually can’t tell between the potatoes and chayote – so don’t be afraid to try it. One word of warning…they get slippery as you peel them, so be careful with your fingers!
Salsa Lizano is Costa Rica’s condiment of choice. It’s most definitely in this recipe and I probably add more to my personal helping. It was an acquired taste, even for me but I quickly learned to love during my stay. It serves as a bit of nostalgia, now, too. While you can totally purchase Lizano in the states you might decide to nix it all together. But I would recommend adding something. This soup calls for a lot of water so the Lizano definitely adds some flavor to the soup. Whether substituting beef broth for some of the water (which I’d like to try next time), bouillon cubes or Worcestershire sauce.
|Sopa de albondigas||
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 C of breadcrumbs
- ½ t of salt
- ¼ t of pepper
- 1 T of vegetable or Canola oil
- 3 small to medium garlic, minced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 10 cups of water
- 1 chayote, peeled and cut into strips
- 1 potato, peeled, de-seeded and cut into long strips
- ½ C of cilantro, roughly chopped
- ½ C Salsa Lizano
- Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until the vegetables soften.
- Stir in the water, chayote and potatoes. Lower heat.
- Meanwhile to make the meatballs, combine the beef, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Form about 20 meatballs.
- Add meatballs, a few at a time, along with the Lizano and cilantro. Bring to a boil briefly then lower and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through and chayote and potatoes are al dente.
If you’re up for trying something different but at the same time basic in flavor and so versatile, give this recipe a try. Please let me know what you think!
Have you ever studied abroad? Do you cook a meal at home from the place you visited?