Holidays and family. Holidays, family and memories. They go together, don’t they?
Getting sick is no fun but when I was a kid, as soon as I caught a cold, my first thought would be “Yay, Mom is going to make me soup!” I loved my mother’s chicken soup with matzo balls. There was nothing like it. She would serve it in these giant green and white bowls that belonged to her mother. On the side would be chicken and flanken that had cooked for hours in the soup. My mother would make both rice and lokshen (noodles) because my father and I preferred rice while she and my sister wanted noodles. One bowl of that soup and you were full for the rest of the day.
Passover was one of my favorite holidays because I got to go to my grandfather’s house. My grandfather, Poppy when I was little, Papa when I got a bit older and Pa when I was a fully grown teenager, was my favorite person in the world. He was the only relative I ever had who truly loved me and treated me well. He lived with my aunt and because my mother and her sister didn’t get along, we didn’t go there often. But on Passover, there was no argument. My Papa was not having a seder without me, his youngest grandchild. I would read The Four Questions and he would read the answers back to me. He was so proud of me, proud that I could read and write Hebrew, proud that I was his.
My father’s favorite Passover dish was Matzo Brei while I loved Fried Matzo. Last year I wrote a vegan recipe for that here. That post is also the one to read to learn how Passover is the perfect time to celebrate veganism. There are links, suggested books and a video. After all, there are billions of animals in slavery and they need an Exodus too.
I loved being part of a seder. I loved seeing my usually non-religious family dressed up, my father wearing his yamulke and dusting off his Hebrew. After the seder, we would watch The Ten Commandments on TV. They used to always play it on Passover then; I don’t understand why that changed over the years. But then, a lot of things change over the years, don’t they?
I don’t have my mother to make me soup when I’m sick. I don’t have my Papa to smile proudly at me while I share religious traditions with him. I don’t have my father to fight with over who gets the last piece of fried matzo. I don’t have the seder that forced the family to come together under one roof and remember our heritage.
And Mom’s chicken soup with matzo balls, well, that’s changed too. There was never any recipe. She just threw it together and that’s how I make it but I paid attention so I could share it. I’ve also shared her secret to lighter, fluffier matzo balls: use seltzer instead of water. Of course there is no chicken or flanken because this is my vegan version of her soup. To make it gluten-free, I used gluten-free matzo meal that is made from oats. It’s very hard to find matzo and matzo meal that is both vegan and gluten-free; these may be the most expensive matzo balls on the planet!
Holidays, family, and memories. They go together like “chicken” soup and vegan matzo balls. It may not be exactly the same as it was but some traditions must live on. Enjoy and have a Happy Pesach!
Matzo Ball Soup
For the Matzo Balls
4 tsp. egg replacer + 2/3 cup warm water OR 1/4 cup potato starch
1 cup matzo meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried dill
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp. safflower oil
up to 3/4 cup seltzer
If using the egg replacer: Mix the egg replacer and warm water together and let sit for 5 minutes.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the oil and the egg replacer/water mixture, if using. Add the seltzer slowly, about 1/4 cup at a time. You should have a very thick batter – like porridge. Whole wheat or gluten-free matzoh meal will require more liquid than regular matzoh meal. You may only need 1/3 cup seltzer. Use your own judgment. If you need to, add more seltzer or more matzoh meal.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Remove from fridge. Wet your hands and roll into balls (around 8 depending on size desired). Gluten-free matzo meal may be stickier and thicker. Gently add the balls to the simmering soup pot and let cook over low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the matzoh balls from the soup until ready to serve.
Serve the soup with one or two matzo balls per person. Add rice or noodles, if desired. Enjoy!
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.