Southwestern Meat Ball Soup

INGREDIENTS:4 clovesgarlic
1 1/3 tsp.cumin
4 cloves, whole
1 tsp.kosher salt
1/3 tsp.black pepper
2 lbs.beef, ground, extra lean
2/3 lb.pork, ground
1 1/3 Tbsps. bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsps.mint, or (hierba buena)
2/3 lb.rice, cooked
2 2/3 lbs.tomato
1-3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup onion
1 1/3 Tbsps. oil
1 1/3 pints chicken stock
1-3 tsps.kosher salt
4 avocados, diced
5corn tortillas, julienned
2-3 oz.cotija cheese, grated
1-3cilantro sprigsDIRECTIONS:1. In a food processor or molcajete, grind the garlic, onion, cumin, cloves, salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and add the beef, pork, raw egg, bread crumbs and mint or hierba buena. Use your hands to combine thoroughly.

2. Form meatballs, using about 1.5 oz. meat for each. Set aside.

3. To make the sauce, puree tomatoes, garlic and onion in a blender and strain. Heat the oil in a skillet; add the pureed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock and cook, covered, for 6 minutes. Uncover and add the meatballs. Cook, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes. Correct the seasonings if necessary.

4. Fry corn tortillas for garnish. Set aside.

5. To serve: Place 3 meatballs in the center of a soup bowl, add the puree stock, top soup with diced avocado, fried corn tortillas, cotija cheese and cilantro. SERVINGS:20 servingsFrom:Manuel Arredondo, executive chef, Houston, TX.