Vegetarian matzo ball soup

Makes 7 cups soup + 12 matzo balls – 6 servings

I have fond childhood memories of matzo balls made by my favorite Jewish aunt. Matzo balls can be firm and chewy or light and fluffy; but hers, somewhere in between, were always just perfect. Of course, Aunt Ceil’s traditional soup had a homemade chicken stock base, which took hours to prepare. This faster vegetarian version tastes nearly as good.

For the matzo balls

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
½ cup unsalted matzo meal
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon salt + a dash for the cooking water

For the soup

6 cups canned chicken broth or vegetable stock (prepare using concentrate, cubes, or powder)
2 cups coarsely chopped white cabbage
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk and leaves, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 scallions (both white and green parts), coarsely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the matzo balls, stir together the eggs, butter, and vegetable stock in a small bowl. Add the matzo meal, parsley, and salt; stir until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or for up to 8 hours. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; stir in a dash of salt. Form the dough into twelve balls about 1 inch in diameter. (Form the balls with wet hands or use a small ice cream scoop.) Drop the balls, one at a time, into the boiling water. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the matzo balls are plump, tender, and cooked through. (Check the stove temperature occasionally; a hard boil will break the balls apart.)

Meanwhile, to prepare the soup put the chicken broth or vegetable stock, cabbage, parsnip, bell pepper, celery and leaves, carrot, and bay leaf in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining soup ingredients and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste.

When the matzo balls are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate.

For each serving place 2 matzo balls in a soup bowl and ladle the soup over them.

Advance preparation

Refrigerate the soup and matzo balls in separate covered containers for up to 3 days. It’s easiest to assemble individual servings of the soup with the matzo balls and reheat in the microwave. Or, reheat them together in a Dutch oven for no longer than 10 minutes, taking care not to break apart the matzo balls.