Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vegan (and Soy-Free) Matzoh-Matzo-Matzah Ball Soup

This is one of the most-requested (and searched) recipes in my repertoire. Matzoh-ball (or "Matzo" or "Matzah" however you grew up spelling it) soup is such a classic recipe, but finding a vegan one can be tricky.

So I'm re-posting for those who would like to try one of the best, warm, cozy, comfort-foods around. I'm not Jewish and don't profess to making it like anyone's Grandma; it might not be "authentic" and we don't reserve it for any particular holiday or celebration. But it always seems perfect for the all-too-frequent chilly, rainy early days of Spring. And it must taste OK, since it's long been a favorite around this house, even though I've drastically changed up the recipe from it's original egg-filled dough.
I admit I originally struggled with veganizing the recipe and getting those tricky matzoh-balls to turn out anything CLOSE to the "original" - but I think we're pretty close here, finally. (Of course, even more traditionally, those matzoh-balls are cooked in chicken-broth, but obviously THAT part is easy enough to veganize). The secret ppears to be firming them up by baking in the oven JUST a little while. See? Like I said, not real "traditional", but they DO turn out, so don't complain...

My photos do not do this soup justice - but I'm an amateur, and it's difficult to make yellowish dough balls in a yellowish broth look like anything much, even on good days. Use your imagination and trust me that it DOES taste good.

I should also point out, that while I am not Jewish, the history and customs do fascinate me. I have several close friends who are Jewish, and we were discussing (mostly LAUGHING at) my matzoh-ball-veganization trials and I mentioned using tofu. Well! Evidently for Ashkenazi members, keeping Kosher at Holidays means no legumes... including tofu.

Back to the drawing board. (I've since learned that some rabbis allow tofu for those following vegan and Kosher but I don't really profess to know how all that works exactly.)

At any rate, to make things more difficult or maybe just in the interest of a challenge, and because I also know people allergic to soy - I decided to try making vegan AND soy-free matzoh-balls! What is wrong with me?

At any rate - Finally, with a lot of gooey, crumbly, mushy, trial-and-errors, I think we have a winner. Or maybe at least a fair substitute...

Soy-free, Dairy-free Matzoh Balls

1/2 cup matzoh meal
2 Tbsp potato starch (yes, this is the only thing that works here, I tried other things, don't ask me what else you can substitute, because nothing else worked out for me, but hey - try whatever you want...)
2/3 cup water (minus about 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. oil
pinch (literally JUST a pinch) of baking soda
pinch of onion powder
pinch of salt
pinch (or two or three) of parsley
*If you miss the "eggy" flavor of original matzoh-balls, you can also add 1/4 tsp India Black Salt here. Optional, but I like it. Do what you want.

Mix all the above ingredients together until a good consistency dough for rolling into balls.

Should be like a soft, slightly sticky play-dough, softer if you want - the dough firms up as it sits and the matzoh absorbs liquid . Add a little more matzoh or liquid if needed for the right texture - and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

Roll into about 16 small (walnut size) balls and drop into gently boiling vegetable or vegetarian-"chicken" broth or your own choice of homemade broth or any salty, seasoned water.
(Any bigger and they start to fall apart. Sorry for those who like them bigger and doughier.)

Turn down heat and simmer gently for 15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from water with slotted spoon and bake on an oiled rack (over a cookie sheet) for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees until they start to dry out.

Refrigerate at this point, out of broth, if you're not ready to use.**

When ready to use, warm in the oven covered with foil (or in the microwave *gasp*). Add to soup of your choice, heat through and serve.

My actual "soup" is nothing fancy - I usually throw a bunch of veggies - often just plain old frozen mixed veggies - in some simple vegetarian "chik-flavored" broth, cook 'till veggies are done and add the matzoh balls. There you have it - Matzoh Ball Soup!

**If you leave the matzoh balls in the broth very long, they start to soften and fall apart, but then the broth thickens up nicely too. So do whatever you like.


Cassie said...

I have never tried matzo balls! We have a display of matzo meal at the grocery store I work at right now. Maybe I should try them

T said...

Woohoo, just in time for passover! Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow--thanks for posting this! I used to love my mom's matzoh ball soup! I can't wait to try your recipe :-)


Kale Crusaders said...

Thank you for the wonderful recipe, Tofu Mom! This is our first *successful* vegan matzo ball recipe.

We used 1 TBSP vital wheat gluten instead of the potato starch as mentioned in your original post.