parve matzoh ball soup


Of course, one can't have Passover without the one dish which expresses the true meaning of the holiday: matzoh ball soup!

Mind you, Kris would like it if I made matzoh ball soup more often, but it's quite a time-consuming dish (and requires 3 pots), so she only gets it on Passover. And, of course, I prefer not to have the traditional chicken stock, so I make my own veggie stock. That's why this recipe is "parve", which means neither dairy nor meat. Yes, this is a vegetarian matzoh ball soup, although it is not vegan.


stockpot simmering

Skins/ends from all the other onions in the recipe (see below)
½ bunch parsley, plus any leftover stems from rest of recipe
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
3 carrots, cut in to 1-inch pieces
5 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, smashed but not peeled
4 small-medium white or red potatoes, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 shallot, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp whole peppercorns
2 tsp salt
Large stockpot, strainer

This is my "no chicken stock", which takes advantage of the fact that home-made veggie stock tastes better than canned chicken stock any day. I've had people refuse to believe that no barn fowl died for this stock. The onion skins are added for color.

Put all the ingredients in the 8-qt pot and cover with water. Heat to boiling, then simmer gently for one hour, then strain. This stock can be made ahead.

Matzoh Balls

1 ½ cups matzoh meal
½ cup finely minced curly parsley
½ large onion, grated or pureed
2 cloves garlic, pressed or pureed
4 whole eggs (no fake eggs, you need the yolks), beaten
3 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ to ½ cup seltzer water
2 qt. canned stock (optional)
Large bowl, large pot, cookie scoop (optional)

Make the matzoh ball dough: combine all ingredients, adding the seltzer water last after everything else is incorporated. It should have the texture of thick porridge; if not, add more seltzer. Set aside somewhere cool for at least ½ hour.

matzoh ball dough

Make the matzoh balls: Boil lightly salted water and/or or canned stock, in the wide pot (unless the pot is at least 13" in diameter, it's better to do two batches). Roll the dough between both hands into balls about 1 ½ inch in diameter (should be 18-24 balls); use a cookie scoop to make them uniform size if you have one.

baking sheet full of raw matzoh balls

Drop the balls gently into the boiling water. They should sink to the bottom, then come back up in two to five minutes.

matzoh balls boiling

Simmer, covered, until the balls have about doubled in size and are getting soft, about 45 minutes. Do not check them more often than once every ten minutes or so; if they don't stay covered, they won't puff up well. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon or strainer, and set aside.

cooked matzoh balls


1 large onion, cut into wedges or eighths
3 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch lengths
4 white or red potatoes, cut into wedges or eighths
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch lengths
12 small sprigs parsley
Large pot, ladle

Add the soup vegetables to the pot, except for the parsley. Simmer for ½ hour, or until the carrots & potatoes are tender. Add the parsley and matzoh balls, and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve, making sure each diner has a couple matzoh balls, some soup, and vegetables.

finished bowl of soup

For leftovers, it's better to refrigerate the matzoh balls and the soup separately, otherwise the balls are liable to become waterlogged and fall apart. The balls will shrink in the fridge; this is normal (ask any guy). Then, put the balls in the soup and reheat them gently. Can also be frozen.

Options for a more "gourmet" soup: replace the onions or celery in the soup with sliced fennel root. Or: garnish the soup with aioli or pistou. Or: add hot paprika and oregano to the matzoh balls, and make the soup with a light tomato broth. Or: add white fish or salt cod to the soup. If you're really cutting corners, you can replace the veggie stock with a mixture of 1qt stock-in-a-box and 6 cups of the water you cooked the matzoh balls in.