Matzo Ball Soup – Dani Valent

A Jewish Passover classic with a multicultural twist

One of the key dishes of the Jewish festival of Passover is Matzo Ball Soup. Jews don’t eat any yeasted bread during Passover, to commemorate the speedy escape from Egypt during which there was no time to let bread rise. Instead, an unleavened cracker called matzo is eaten. Matzo are eaten plain, but it’s very traditional to formed matzo meal into dumplings too.

A good matzo ball (in my opinion) is fluffy and has some texture. That’s why I make my own matzo meal so I can keep some larger crumbs, and I beat my egg whites separately. My radical intervention is to add a few Vietnamese flavours, inspired by pho noodle soup. I put ginger and lemongrass in my chicken broth and Vietnamese mint in the dumplings themselves. You can just leave these flavours out if you want to stay traditional.

Thanks to Arwen for this lovely image. She even made her own matzos using this recipe.

Makes: 16 dumplings
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 3 matzos (see Tips)
  • 1 sprig Vietnamese mint
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, or another fine salt
  • 1.5L (50 oz) chicken broth (see Tips)

Method

1. Break matzo into about 6 pieces each and place in mixing bowl along with Vietnamese mint leaves. Blitz 9 sec/speed 6.  Set aside. If not using a Thermomix, crumble in a food processor.
2. Insert Butterfly. Separate eggs and place egg whites in mixing bowl. Mix 1 min/speed 4If not using a Thermomix, whisk egg whites to soft peaks by hand or in a mixer.
3. Add yolks, reserved matzo meal and salt. Mix 15 sec/speed 2. If not using a Thermomix, fold together gently in a mixing bowl. Set aside in a container and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (this can be done the day before). When firm, roll dessertspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place in Varoma. Remove Butterfly and clean mixing bowl. If not using a Thermomix, cook balls in simmering chicken broth. 
4. Place 1.5L chicken broth in mixing bowl and set Varoma in place. Steam 20 min/Varoma/speed 2.
5. Remove Varoma and drop matzo balls into broth. Cook 2 min/100°C (212°F)/Rev/speed 1.
Serve hot, in shallow bowls.

Tips

  • Matzo are available in supermarkets and delis in Jewish neighbourhoods; they look like this. (Or make your own.)
  • I love having chicken broth on hand! When steaming chicken, for example, for my Chicken Tart, I keep the steaming water and store it in the fridge (if using within a few days) or freezer. To create a richer broth, I will throw my steaming water base (or a few litres of fresh water) in a pot with onion, carrot, bay leaf and a few chicken drumsticks and let it all simmer for an hour or two, skimming any brown froth that appears. I then take out the drumsticks, pull the meat from the bones and discard the bones and skin. Return the meat to the pot for a heartier broth, or use it in sandwiches and salads if you want a clear broth. For my Vietnamese-flavoured matzo balls, I added a sliced lemongrass stalk to the broth as well.

More about this recipe

Listen to me talking about this dish on Jewish radio.
Read about the festival at which I demonstrated these matzo balls.

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