Garlicky Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

This will be the fourth year I’ve made matzo ball soup for Passover Seder. I will say, if you have a matzo-liquid ratio that works well, STICK WITH IT, and simply add the ingredient that I think made the biggest difference: roasted garlic. I know the list of ingredients looks long, but that’s mostly seasonings, so don’t be alarmed!

To to add more flavor to the stock, I made sure to get some color on the onions before adding liquid, and also made the stock one day in advance so that the flavors could develop.

The keys to this recipe are:

  1. Add lots of roasted garlic to the matzo balls
  2. Get some browning on your onions
  3. Made stock one day in advance

Soup Ingredients:

  • 5 yellow onions
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 5 large carrots
  • 1 bunch of parsley (stems for stock and leaves for garnish)
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Roasted Vegetable Base (or other vegetable bouillon)
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • water

Matzo Ball Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 6 large cloves garlic (or more small cloves)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 tbsp olive oil (or whatever oil you have available [melted schmaltz if not making vegetarian])
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley (or dill or both)
  • 1/2 cup soup broth
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp marjoram (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

Halve 3 onions lengthwise with skin on. Add oil to large wide pot on medium heat. Once hot, add halved onions with skin up. Cook for about 7 min. until onions begin turning light brown.

Halve 3 carrots lengthwise and cut into 2 inch chunks and cut 2 stalks of celery into 2 inch chunks.  Add to the pot along with all other stalk ingredients along with about 16-20 cups of water (depending on pot size). Bring to rolling boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, finely dice other 2 onions. Add a touch of oil to a hot pan and lightly brown onions for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Set aside.

Cut remaining 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks into small bite size chunks.

Once stock has cooked for 1.5 to 2 hours, remove from heat and strain out vegetables. Then, return stock to the pot and add chopped cooked onions, carrots and celery, and simmer on low heat for another 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Remove from heat, cool, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, make matzo meal. Start by preheating over to 375 F and putting 7 large cloves of garlic with skin on (or more cloves if smaller size) with few drops of oil on a foil sheet. Wrap up foil and bake for 30 min. Remove from oven and open up foil for garlic to cool. Once cooled, squeeze out garlic into a bowl and mash with fork. Add eggs and parsley and whisk together.

In a larger bowl, add matzo meal and spices. Taste a pinch and adjust seasoning if desired. Then add baking powder, eggs/garlic/parsley mix, oil, and soup liquid to the matzo mix and gently stir together with fork until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Bring soup to a rolling boil then reduce to a simmer. Wet hands and gently form chilled matzo mix into balls slightly larger than ping pong balls and drop into pot. Cover with a lid and cook for at least 40 minutes. Chop remainder of fresh parsley or dill (or both!) and add to soup and serve.

Red Barszcz (Czerwony Barszcz Wigilijny)

Barszcz, borscht, borshch, are all names for beautiful beet-based soups of Eastern European origin. Beyond beets, there are few similarities between barszcz recipes from country to country, region to region and family to family. Many people typically think of a Ukrainian variety (barszcz ukraiński), filled with chunks of vegetables, and some with meat. There’s also chłodnik, a refreshing cold beet summer soup that is served with sour cream or buttermilk.

This barszcz is more of a broth, with small bits of grated beets on the bottom and is the variety that is always served for Wigilia, or Christmas Eve. This soup is usually paired with small mushroom dumplings.

Many other Christmas Eve barszcz recipes yield a sweet flavor. I don’t know if this is a regional variation or simply a family variation, but I did not grow up eating barszcz with any sugar or sweetness beyond what came from the beets themselves. To each their own! Continue reading

Lentil Soup

Have you ever neglected to go grocery shopping for a while, looked in your kitchen and wondered what on earth you were going to cook? Well if that happens, chances are that you have at least 75% of the ingredients necessary to make this dish.

Flavorful, economical, and easy, this is a great soup to make on a Sunday and bring to work, or have ready for dinner for a few days when your day is over. If you don’t have all of the spices, don’t worry! Soups are rarely a perfect science, so just omit it if you don’t have it! Continue reading

Leczo Inspired Pepper Stew

Leczo is a bell pepper stew that originally hails from Hungary (where it is spelled lecso). At some point, variations made their way through the region and over to Poland. This is NOT a recipe for an authentic Hungarian Lecso, but it does contain some of the necessary fundamentals: peppers, onion, tomato, and paprika. The end result is still delicious and can be a vegetarian stew/ragout used to top something like rice or buckwheat, or it can include kielbasa or other meat to make it a heartier standalone stew. Or it can just be a great side. This recipe is also much thicker than a lot of other leczo recipes out there, but you can obviously combine elements of all and adjust based on your preferences. 🙂 Continue reading