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Candle Cafe’s Vegan Albondigas Soup for Cinco De Mayo


Albondigas is a Mexican soup that is traditionally made with meatballs and tomato broth, and it’s considered a classic comfort food. Here, we make wheat balls with ground seitan and peppers and a light roasted tomato and vegetable broth. It makes a beautiful starter for our Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Serves 8 to 10


1 pound plum tomatoes, or 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup steamed corn kernels
1 bay leaf
11/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish

Wheat Balls

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to brush
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound seitan, drained and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cut dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional to garnish
1 tablespoon sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, put them in a roasting pan and roast until softened, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Peel the tomatoes, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and corn and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, paprika, and salt. Add the broth and simmer until reduced a bit, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. The soup can be made ahead of time up to this point. Reheat the soup before serving.

To make the wheat balls, preheat over to 300°F. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and poblano pepper and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Put the seitan in a food processor and process until completely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the flour, bread crumbs, cilantro, and salt. Add the onion and pepper mixture and stir to combine.

Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and put them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and put 3 tablespoons of water on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned, and then remove from the oven.

To serve, arrange two wheat balls in each soup bowl and pour the warm tomato soup over them. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Recipe from Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe: Celebratory Menus and Recipes from New York’s Premier Plant-Based Restaurants by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda (Ten Speed Press 2014). Reprinted with permission. 

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