Listen to Austin 360 Radio

New book features Central Texans' recipes for tortilla soup, caldo de albóndigas

Addie Broyles
Austin 360
This chicken tortilla soup from Leander resident Carolyn Gloria is featured in a new free e-cookbook called "The Stories of Our Table."

Pati Jinich, host of "Pati's Mexican Table" on PBS and author of several cookbooks, has always celebrated immigration.

She's an immigrant herself, of course, moving from Mexico to Texas and then Washington, D.C., to pursue a policy research job and then a food career.

Now she shares stories and recipes that blend her Mexican upbringing with her American immigrant experience. During the pandemic, she teamed up with the organization Stand Together to create a free e-cookbook filled with recipes and stories that showcase the diversity of America.

More:Tasting Texas: Two new cooking shows dive into Tex Mex, Filipino food culture

Stand Together, founded in 2003 by Charles Koch, "empowers people dedicated to helping others improve their lives," according to the website, through a philanthropic community that tackles everything from prison reform and addiction recovery to strengthening K-12 education.

Last year, during the pandemic and heated election cycle, Stand Together reached out to Jinich to spearhead a virtual community cookbook called "The Stories of Our Table," which celebrates the influence of immigrants on American cuisine. 

Jinich moved to the U.S. more than two decades ago from her native Mexico, and she and her family now call Washington, D.C., home. "I believe a recipe can yield so much more than a delicious meal," she writes in the e-book. "For me, cooking isn’t just a means to a meal — it’s a way to remember. Some of our best memories are associated with the smell and taste of home-cooked food, and you can be transported back to these moments when you recreate the recipe in your own kitchen."

More:New book explores the mind-blowingly diverse world of Black food in America

She says that over the years, she's noticed that appreciating new cultures through food is something that comes naturally to many people, particularly in the U.S. 

By searching for new recipes, we "embark on a journey that not only ends with dinner for the whole family, but a greater appreciation for the people and places that created that recipe," she writes. Two of the book's contributors are from Central Texas, Miriam Delgado of Austin and Carolyn Gloria from Leander. They shared their recipes for meatballs and tortilla soup.

Austinite Miriam Delgado makes this meatball soup for her family. She shared the recipe in a new e-cookbook called "The Stories of Our Table."

Mami Golla’s Caldo de Albóndigas

My grandmother (Mami Golla) taught my mom how to make this dish back when she was newly married and not too wealthy. It has meaning because meat was more expensive and hard to afford, they added rice to the meatball/albóndigas, which is what makes them hearty and delicious! I loved this caldo de albóndigas growing up, and I now make it for my 2-year old son. It’s his favorite dish and I plan to make it for his children one day. It truly is a humble and delicious dish that is a favorite and will always be passed on to the next generation. The best thing is: It’s toddler-approved!

— Miriam Delgado

1 pound 85/15 ground beef

1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice

6 cloves garlic, minced, divided

1/2 onion, divided (1/4 cup diced and remaining chopped)

1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped

1 large egg

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon plus 1/2 tablespoon pepper, divided

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large tomato, sliced into slivers

6 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Roll meat mixture into small and evenly sized meatballs, a little bit larger than the size of a quarter. Set to the side.

Pour olive oil in a tall pot and place over a medium high flame. Add the remaining chopped onion and tomato slivers and sauté for 3 minutes. Add remining minced garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

Pour 6 1/2 cups water in pot and bring to a boil. Add in meatballs, remaining cilantro, salt and pepper, as well as the marjoram.

Bring water to a boil, and cover pot with lid. Lower flame to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with lime and a side of rice.

— Miriam Delgado

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My family is the definition of “TexMex.” My dad is Hispanic, and my mom has Scandinavian roots. I’m proud of my mixed culture, each represented in their own way. My parents have been married 40 years and have given me five beautiful sisters. Though the budget was tight, our tummies were always full.

Whole chicken, dried beans and fresh vegetables were staples on my mom’s grocery list. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent squeezed around our kitchen table sharing a meal. Not long after I moved away from home, I found myself becoming a stranger in the kitchen.

As life got busier, takeout and pre-packaged foods became staples in my house. Following the birth of my daughter, things only got worse. I was a new, working mom, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend time in the kitchen. Then my life changed when I unexpectedly became a stay-at-home mom and was forced to rethink my family’s budget. I began to experiment in the kitchen once again, getting creative with whole ingredients.

With years of my mom’s lessons under my belt, I was able to create affordable, nutritious meals that my family loved. Now, sharing the tastes, smells and tips of the kitchen with my daughter takes me to a new level of happiness. I love sharing this meal with everyone in my family. It’s one of many cherished recipes that draw me into my kitchen and bring wholeness into my life.

— Carolyn Gloria

4 bone-in chicken thighs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground paprika, divided

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground chili powder, divided

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 cups chicken broth, divided

1 cup white onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 (28 ounce) can diced roasted tomatoes

2 cups carrots, chopped

2 cups zucchini, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained

For the toppings:

Chopped spinach

Avocado, cubed

Red onion, chopped

Shredded cheese

Crispy tortillas:

1 1/2 cups corn flour

1 cup warm water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cooking oil

Pat dry and season chicken with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place chicken pieces skin side down and cook for 5 minutes or until skin is crispy. Flip and cook other side for 7 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth; Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and place on a plate to cool. Reserve drippings in a smaller bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes stirring frequently. Add garlic and remaining chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Add oregano and coriander. Cook for 1 minute, stir and add roasted tomatoes. Add reserved chicken drippings, remaining broth and carrots. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Directions for crispy tortillas: Heat skillet or comal over medium high heat.

Place corn flour, water and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine then knead with hands until mixture resembles wet dough. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide mixture into small 2-inch balls. Place each ball of dough in between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or between 2 plastic sheets if using a tortilla press. Press into a 3-inch disc.

Cook each tortilla on the skillet (or comal) for 30 seconds on each side or until the tortillas puff up. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or cover with a kitchen towel. 

— Carolyn Gloria