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A Passover like no other: Embrace a more intimate celebration of the Jewish holiday

Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup
Active time:1 hour 10 mins
Total time:2 hours
Servings:10 to 12
Active time:1 hour 10 mins
Total time:2 hours
Servings:10 to 12
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This year, it won’t be Passover as usual. Few people will host large gatherings for Seders, instead creating smaller, more intimate celebrations with just immediate family or maybe a handful of close relatives and friends. Out-of-town family, even our children, won’t fly in, and there will be no need to borrow an extra table and folding chairs from the neighbors.

So, how should we create a Seder and a week of meals to mark this important, joyous Jewish holiday about liberation when so many of us feel trapped in our own houses?

What’s kosher for Passover? It depends on who you ask.

For many of us, our homes are a place of refuge and solace, and the heart of that home is the kitchen, whether it’s large enough for a crowd or a tiny corner in a studio apartment. We go to the kitchen not just to feed ourselves but also to find comfort, unwind and release stress after a long day. It’s also where we prepare to welcome guests.

While we might be tempted to think of covid-19 as an 11th plague of Passover, we can instead make this a deliciously distinctive holiday.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup recipe here.

Blending tradition with new tastes

Passover is a food holiday, from the many symbolic elements of the Seder to the commitment of eating differently from any other week of the year. At a time like this, we want the comfort of our traditional holiday dishes, yet our kitchens are also the perfect place to embrace this unique Passover in different ways.

Take, for example, chicken soup, often called “Jewish penicillin.” The soup does do a body good, and while you might have your own long-standing family recipe, maybe this is the year to incorporate plant-based eating with a vegetarian version. We’re also suggesting two options for matzoh balls — one of them vegan — both pumped full of flavor with lots of green onions and dill.

Why we need eggs at Passover

Another vegetable-forward dish is a Kuku, a Persian dish little known in this country. It is packed with immune-boosting herbs and vegetables — in this case, cauliflower. The result is a satisfying vegetarian main or side dish. This recipe makes enough to almost guarantee leftovers. It freezes well, too. Although we might not be cooking for the masses this year, making extra for ourselves is a time-saving way to ensure we have plenty of tasty, healthy prepared food on hand.

Make the recipe: Cauliflower Kuku

Haroset is an easy pathway to new Passover flavors. At the Seder, haroset symbolizes the mortar used by the enslaved Hebrews forced to build the pharaoh’s structures. For most American Jews, the apples-and-walnut version is traditional, but there is an endless variety of haroset originating in all the many countries Jews have called home. This Turkish version is a tart, jammy and nut-free standout.

This year, try making several versions of haroset and have a taste-off as part of your Seder. The leftovers spread on matzoh during the ensuing eight days of the holiday remind us of how eating differently during Passover can be quite tasty.

A family that cooks together …

Whomever you are home with, the holiday is the perfect time to involve everyone in the cooking. With kids, the kitchen is a place to have easy conversation, develop life skills and pass along family traditions. It’s also an excellent place to painlessly work on math and science skills. With age-appropriate supervision, kids can help with stirring and measuring ingredients, chopping vegetables and herbs, and more.

Make the recipe: Nut-Free Turkish Haroset

Teens can oversee whole dishes, and everyone can have fun with a matzoh ball roll-in — hands well-washed, of course. It really doesn’t matter if the balls are all perfectly shaped. Being together is what matters most.

Save room for these sweet treats on your Passover table

If you’re stuck in the house alone (as I am), cook with a friend or two virtually using FaceTime or Skype. When it’s time for the Seders, use that technology to connect as you read the Haggada and sing around your separate tables as one, coming together to create a new definition of the Seder table.

Other related recipes 

Nut-Free Turkish Haroset

Cauliflower Kuku

Vegetarian Scallion and Green Onion Matzoh Balls

Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup

The only thing missing from this beloved soup is the chicken, but with all the rich flavor and golden color (thanks to turmeric and onion skins) few will miss it. Make it with the vegan matzoh balls included below or try a vegetarian matzoh ball in the dish.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE SOUP
  • 4 quarts boxed vegetable broth or homemade vegetable broth, such as Imagine brand's “no-chicken” version
  • 1 medium yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 medium carrots, trimmed (peeled, if desired)
  • 6 stalks celery with leaves, trimmed
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium leeks (about 1 pound) split lengthwise and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (8 to 10 stems)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh dill (10 to 12 stems), plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 to 5 bay leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • FOR THE MATZOH BALLS
  • 2 cups finely chopped scallions (from about 10 to 16 scallions)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tablespoons tepid water
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 cup cool vegetable broth or water
  • Oil (optional) or water, for shaping the matzoh balls

Step 1

For the soup: In a large stockpot, combine the broth, onion, 3 of the carrots, 3 stalks of the celery, the turnips, the dark green tops and tough outer layers of the leeks (reserve the white and light green parts), parsley, the dill stems, garlic and bay leaves. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let the soup simmer until fragrant and flavorful, about 45 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, to taste, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove from the heat, remove the lid and let cool.

Step 2

While the soup cooks, slice the white and light green parts of the leeks into thin half-moons. Cut the remaining uncooked celery and carrots into bite-size pieces.

Step 3

When the soup has cooled, set a large fine-mesh strainer over another large pot or bowl. Slowly pour the cooled broth through the strainer. Using the back of a large spoon, press the liquid out of the cooked vegetables. Discard the vegetables and return the liquid to the stockpot.

Step 4

Return the stockpot to medium-high heat and bring the soup back to a slow boil. Add the reserved leeks, carrots and celery, lower the heat so the soup is at a simmer, cover and cook until just softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the chopped fresh or dried dill, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 5

For the matzoh balls: While the soup is simmering, clean the scallions, trimming the roots and the dark green tops and peeling away the tougher outer layer of the white part. Finely slice the rest of the green and white parts, cutting any thick white parts in half lengthwise before slicing.

Step 6

In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the scallions in one layer and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 7

In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed with the 2 tablespoons of water and let it thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 8

In a medium bowl, combine the matzoh meal, potato starch, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of the salt, mixing well with a fork or whisk to ensure there are no lumps.

Step 9

In another medium bowl, combine the flaxseed mixture, dill, broth or water and the cooled green onions, including the oil they cooked in, and gently mix to combine.

Add the flaxseed mixture to the matzoh mixture and stir gently until just combined; you will have a thick batter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. The mixture will thicken as it chills.

Step 10

When ready to cook the matzoh balls, fill a large stockpot about two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.

Remove the matzoh mixture from the refrigerator. Lightly oil your hands or dampen them with water. Roll the mixture into about 16 walnut-size balls and gently lower them into the boiling water or stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the matzoh balls rise to the top and double in size, 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 11

Using a slotted spoon, remove the matzoh balls from the water, draining them well. If not serving immediately, place the matzoh balls on a large, flat plate and cover loosely with foil until ready to serve.

Step 12

To serve, place one or two matzoh balls in a bowl and ladle the hot soup over them. If the matzoh balls become cold, they can be reheated briefly in the soup. Garnish with fresh dill.

Nutrition

Calories: 137; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 921 mg; Carbohydrates: 23 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 5 g; Protein: 3 g.

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