Friday, April 15, 2011

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

A friend of mine asked for my vegetarian matzo ball soup recipe. With Passover coming up, I thought others might benefit from this. Very simple, but takes awhile due to the caramelizing of the vegetables.

.........The matzo balls themselves are hard to explain because you need the right consistency. easier to watch someone do it. but this recipe will get you there:

the key is when you remove the mix from the refrigerator to shape the balls, you need to be gentle as you shape them. rough handling will make them dense.

as for the soup, that is a longer, 2 day process. the secret is to caramelize the veggies prior to boiling. so depending on the amount of broth you need, chop/slice the following veggies for your large fry pan or pot:

4 carrots
2 onions
4 stalks celery

(you can mix up these proportions as you like, or add or subtract based on your tastes).

multiply those amounts by about how much your pan can fit and also how much broth you want (this probably makes about 5-6 servings). the veggies will reduce significantly as they cook.

here is a good link on the virtues of caramelizing:

at first, when you add the veggies to the pan coated with oil, sprinkle salt and pepper (and any other spice you like). on medium heat, you "sweat" the vegetables. you will notice that the onions will go almost translucent. when that first stage is done (about 10-12 minutes), kick your heat down to low and prep other dishes in your kitchen. because depending upon how much vegetable matter is in your pan, the process can take from an hour to 1.5 hrs. never get the heat so high that the veggies are turning black or burnt. after about 40 minutes, the veggies will start to turn brownish, which indicates that they are caramelizing. you will want to stir about every 10-12 minutes. when you are finished with this part, the veggies will taste very sweet.

next, add the caramelized veggies to a pot and cover with water. better to add a little too little water than too much -- it's easier to add water than to reduce later. add a little more salt or pepper to taste. also, better to go a little under at this stage on the s/p -- can always add more later. bring the broth to a full boil, then reduce to a simmer for 40 minutes. the broth should be reasonably free of impurities, but in case a lot of foam comes up after the initial boil, you can skim that off. after 40 minutes, you can go in there with a potato masher if you like to break up some of the vegetable matter and get it more incorporated with the broth. simmer another 20 minutes. now, when tasted, the broth is pretty close to your final product.

turn off the heat source and allow the soup to cool. refrigerate overnight. if the soup is still warm when you put it in the fridge, crack the lid a little so the heat can escape. trapped heat in a fridge can create spoilage.

the next day, strain the stock and discard the non-broth vegetable matter. these veggies have had all the flavor and nutrient cooked out of them. if you taste them, you will notice they have almost no flavor. all the flavor has gone into the stock. good for compost.

extra stock can be frozen as needed at this stage.

next, depending on how many fresh veggies you want in your soup, chop/slice:

3 carrots
1 onion
2 celery stalks

(again multiply as necessary. sometimes i will throw in a cubed sweet potato or white potato for sweetness/starchiness)

bring the strained stock to a boil and throw in your fresh veggies, with additional salt/pepper as necessary. add a little more water, cup by cup, if the stock is too thick/rich. simmer for about 45 minutes until veggies are tender. add your matzo balls, and take the time to warm them completely if they had been refrigerated. they can also be warmed in a separate pot then dropped into the soup bowls.

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