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This one is only truly mindless if you have access to a crockpot (which every hardworking freelancer should) and a food processor and a source of pre-made frozen meatballs.  Make the meatballs yourself from scratch when ground beef is on sale, or get the storebought ones when those are on sale — either way, they’re good to have in the freezer as meals-in-the-bank for nights when you can’t be bothered to cook anything requiring thought.

And when you’re not in the mood for meatball subs, or spaghetti and meatballs, you can make this:

Mexican Meatball Soup (Albondigas)

  •     2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced Ro-Tel tomatoes & chiles (Don’t try to substitute some other brand of tomatoes and chiles, and go for the original, not the mild, version.  Those of us who hail from Texas know that Ro-Tel makes the one true brand.)
  •     2  14-ounce cans beef broth
  •     2  14-ounce cans chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon stock base, and make up four cups of it using 2 teaspoons each of the beef and chicken bases.)
  •     1 box frozen cooked meatballs (or about a pound’s worth of homemade ditto)
  •     1 medium onion, chopped (I run the onion through the food processor on “chop” along with the cilantro, but if you want a coarser chop you can always do it by hand.  It’s not as mindless that way, though.)
  •     1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (To be honest, I always just eyeball the fresh cilantro.  If you belong to the cilantro-tastes-like-soap portion of the population, this probably isn’t the recipe for you.)
  •     1/2 cup pastini pasta, uncooked
  •     2 teaspoons dried oregano
  •     1 can black beans
  •     salt and pepper, to taste
  •     sour cream, garnish (optional)
  •     shredded cheese, garnish (optional)

Chop onions and cilantro.

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.

Cook for 4 hours on High or 8-9 hours on Low.

Ladle soup in bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

On the line stretching from Convenience to Authenticity, this recipe is firmly pegged down at the Convenience end.  But that, in this case, is the point.

If you’re interested in moving a bit closer to Authenticity, the internet is full of recipes for making albondigas from scratch.