For a healthy take on a traditional favorite this Passover, try this vegetarian matzo ball soup with inflammation-fighting turmeric and fresh dill!
It turns out that matzo ball soup, one of the most traditional and simple dishes at Passover, is not so simple! There are many factors involved in making the perfect matzo ball. First, the weight of the matzo ball. Are you a fan of the fluffy floater, or the dense sinker? Personally, I absolutely love matzo balls and will eat them either way! Another factor to consider is the type of broth, which will have a major effect on flavor. In my home, our broth of choice is vegetarian, and that means adding lots of spices and fresh herbs to give it more taste.
Perfecting the Matzo Ball
Growing up, my family was not particularly religious–my mother came from a Christian household and my father from a Jewish one. Our holidays revolved around family traditions like decorating the christmas tree, dying easter eggs, and yes, making matzo ball soup. Traditions at home always included a delicious holiday meal, as food was always a focus. My mother was an extremely intelligent and successful woman that was a pioneer in the medical field. She also made some very unique (and delicious) matzo balls. Instead of small matzo balls in a soup, my mother would make ostrich egg sized matzo balls with Mrs. Grass’ noodle soup mix.
This spring, I decided to finally make my own matzo ball soup with the same Jewish American Cookbook that my mother used during my childhood. Instead of using matzo ball mix like we did growing up, I decided to make mine from scratch. After some researching, I came across an amazing article online about the basics of matzo ball making by Serious Eats. There is a true technique to making a fluffier matzo ball if you are not a fan of the dense version. This blew my mind! The trick is using either seltzer water or baking soda (or a combination of both). Also, simmering the matzo balls in broth instead of water will add in more flavor. I used these different techniques in my recipe and I was really impressed!
Turn it up with Turmeric!
To spice up the traditional matzo ball recipe, I decided to add in turmeric for a hint of color and additional nutritional benefits. You may recognize turmeric in Indian dishes such as curry, yellow rice, and even tea. There’s a reason it is starting to pop up more and more in our favorite foods. This magical spice may delay the effects of aging and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. More specifically, preliminary studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes, and help fight inflammation. Even with ongoing research showing promising results, don’t go overboard with turmeric supplementation. Using the spice in cooking is a healthy way to sneak in the anti-inflammatory benefit. Just as I did with this soup broth, sprinkle it in your favorite stews, rice dishes, and even scrambled eggs. If you are feeling bold, try it in a smoothie!
Over the summer, several brands issued a recall of their ground turmeric, because of concerns over traces of lead. I highly recommend a high quality turmeric that is certified organic and free of contaminants. For more information, visit the FDA’s website for product recalls and food safety alerts.
In this recipe…
The trick to matzo balls is to have the right consistency. To set the mixture, place the blended matzo batter in the fridge for at least a half hour. To save time, I prepped the vegetables for the soup while the matzo batter was cooling in the refrigerator. Once ready, the matzo balls are best when cooked separately from the soup broth. This keeps the matzo balls from absorbing too much of the soup broth and preventing a cloudy, starchy broth. Some recipes call for boiling them in water, but I felt the broth gave a better flavor. This soup can easily be adapted based on your preferences, whether it is using chicken broth instead of vegetable stock, or making denser matzo balls without the baking soda. For those of you celebrating Passover, I wish you a very Happy Passover and a very delicious matzo ball soup!
- 1 cup matzo meal
- For the Matzo Balls:
- 3 whole large eggs plus 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3-4 tablespoons oil oil or melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, optional
- 10 cups water (or half of liquid using vegetable broth for more flavor, about 4-5 cups)
- Vegetarian soup stock:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 10 cups water
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- To make the matzo balls:
- Stir all of the matzo ball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the mixture.
- Once matzo balls are ready, in a large pot bring 10 cups of water or vegetable broth to a boil.
- Using a cookie scooper or small spoon, scoop out mix and roll with wet hands to make a one-two inch ball. This prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands.
- Slowly place into the boiling water. Once all of the matzo balls are in the pot, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, covered. The matzo balls should be soft all the way through (use a fork to test).
- Once cooked, turn off the heat.
- For the Soup:
- While the matzo balls simmer, it is time to prepare the soup.
- Heat a 4 quart pot with the olive oil on medium high. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sautee for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Do not brown the vegetables. Add the garlic and turmeric and sautee for 30 seconds to one minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the water and add the salt and bay leaves. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are soft and the broth is flavorful. Adjust the salt and spices to your liking.
- Once the broth is ready turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves.
- Slowly spoon in the matzo balls into the broth using a slotted spoon. Toss in the fresh dill and let the soup cool down for a few minutes before serving.