Ah, the dreaded “P” word. The word that we Jews cringe when anyone utters it before Purim. Yes, I’m referring to “Pesach”! HA! It’s not that overwhelming, is it? (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here). And so it begins. Searching, sweeping, and cleaning out old, weird stuff from the fridge (you know, the stuff you forgot to label, some unidentifiable mushy substance that now has a fresh layer of fuzzy mold?) Alright, enough of the gross stuff. You are reading about food here anyway.
Quick disclaimer: Some of you may notice that I have included peas in this recipe. Peas are “kitnoyit” and only eaten by Sephardic Jews on Passover, so if you’re Ashkenazic, then peas are off limits. So feel free to omit, if it applies to you.
So this week’s challenge is none other than the traditional “matzah ball” (or matzo ball as it’s most commonly spelled). Being, well, me…I wanted to take on the challenge to make mine gluten free, and before you get all annoyed with me that I may not making true matzo balls, here me out for a second. Call them whatever you want, but basically these are big gnocchi, and trust me…they turned out pretty delicious if I say so myself. So no haters here…just wanted to try something different while still appealing to everyone. I must admit, I had to do some research here. Survey says – use potatoes as the base. I went with yukon gold potatoes, mostly because I like the flavor, and when they cook, they get this super creamy consistency that I don’t think you can really get from a big baking potato, and no peeler necessary (though honestly, I hardly ever peel potatoes). The other thing I realized while doing some searching on the interwebs, is that you MUST wait for the potatoes to cool before making the dough (so, insert extra prep time for that). I didn’t ask questions, I just followed along.
Then came the hard part – what type of soup would I make? I briefly thought about “tortilla soup”, sans tortillas, but using the matzah balls as a replacement, but my gut told me to go with a simple minestrone. It’s a week before Passover and aren’t we all trying to get rid of random items in our fridge? Many of us probably have canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, frozen peas, right? This is basically a “dump soup” as I like to call them – just dump everything into a pot and call it a day. That’s the beauty about making soup, you can throw in whatever you want and adjust seasonings as you go, it’s almost fool-proof. Plus…since these matzah balls are basically gnocchi, why not make an Italian-influenced soup, right? I’m not trying to change the world here with my out-of-the-box and totally inaccessible recipes that no one will make it.
Before I go, I have 2 tips for you (and one bonus tip in the recipe below), because you KNOW I’m all about handy tips, ya! So I used a can of whole peeled tomatoes for this and I happen to love these vintage-looking cans, so don’t throw them out (or recycle for that matter), instead use it as a low vase for flowers!
Tip number 2? I made veggie stock a few months ago and froze it in ice cube trays (I have a few weirdly shaped ones, some heart-shaped, some stick-shaped, but who cares), then instead of buying veggie stock for this soup, I just popped in a few veggie stock cubes and you’re done. I kinda eyeballed the measurements, but feel free to play with it as you make it! I added a lot of water and stock because I didn’t want it to end up being tomato sauce. So start with some water and you can always add more. Don’t have stock around? That’s fine too, just add enough after and make sure you season with plenty of salt, pepper, and whatever else you have on hand. The sky’s the limit! Don’t have peas? Throw in some sliced button mushrooms! Make it your own!
One other thing to add. If you’re like me and want to multi-task, let your slow cooker be your friend in this scenario! I didn’t want to babysit my soup, so instead I dumped everything into my crock-pot, and cooked it on low overnight. I made this for Friday night dinner, so all I had to do was put it back on the crock pot and re-heat it. Don’t you love when your kitchen appliances can do the work for you? But obviously you can make it the old fashioned way too.
So that’s it, here we go! 1 week and counting. Wishing you all a chag kasher v’sameach and a wonderful Pesach with family, friends and hopefully LOTS of good food. 🙂
Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments. Also, let me know if you like my matzo ball soup or Daniel’s better. You can find hers here: Traditional Chicken Soup With (Kosher) Bacon Schmaltz Matzo Balls
- 7 small-medium yukon gold potatoes baked and cooled
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 cups potato starch
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp fresh dill
- 2 tsp garlic powder I roasted some garlic with the potatoes and I added the garlic to the soup, but you can use garlic powder, that's totally ok 🙂
- 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 small white onions, chopped into large pieces
- 1 10 oz bag of frozen green peas
- 1 10 oz bag of frozen carrots yea, I was feeling pretty lazy here, just being honest.
- 3 stalks celery, chopped optional (I didn't use any because I just used up whatever I had in the house)
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced also optional,
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups veggie stock
- 3 cups water
Make the soup - in a large soup pot, sweat the onions, garlic, celery (if using) carrots and mushrooms (if using) for about 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
Open the can of whole peeled tomatoes and carefully (wearing an apron is a must here), use your hands to crush the tomatoes while in the can, so they're not quite as "whole" but a little more rustic.
Add in the can of tomatoes, frozen peas, stock, water and any other spices or seasonings (thyme, bay leaf, dried basil)
Turn the stove to high and cook until the soup is boiling, then turn down the simmer, cover and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the soup is cooking, add the matzah balls ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to add in a little more flour if the dough is still too sticky but depends on how starchy your potatoes are, or if you're using extra large eggs. Knead the dough in a big stainless steel bowl until you get the perfect consistency (you want to be able to roll them in your hands, so not too sticky but sticky enough that they hold together).
Fill a second soup pot with water and bring to a boil.
(Tip #3): Use a mini ice cream scoop to portion out the matzah ball dough and drop in to the boiling water.
Cook for a few minutes, until the balls float to the top.
Remove the matzah balls with a slotted spoon and drop them into the minestrone soup to finish cooking.
Serve the soup piping hot with fresh basil or dill and enjoy!