Soup of the Week: Turkey and Matzoh Ball

This is my third year following (mostly) the Kosher for Passover diet with the mister and also the first in which I decided to take on matzoh ball soup.

Y’all know I’m up for a challenge, especially if the challenge is of the foodie variety and extra-especially if that foodie challenge is of the soupy variety, but matzoh ball soup is super-intimidating. I’ve not been exposed to it much and, when I have been, it was always at the hands of someone who knew how to make it just so with “just so” meaning made by someone’s bubbe who has been handed down all of the family secrets for a gorgeously clear and flavorful broth, perfectly fluffy wee dumplings and just the right types and amounts of seasonings to make it taste like something you’ll never be able to make, but still like homemade.

I’ve never seen it made, which makes it very difficult to determine what it’s all about and the science behind them, but the spirit in which the dish is intended, which is basically love, love, love, love, love, and affliction, of course, is not lost on me at all.

Daunting af.

In part because this year’s Passover adventure began with a turkey and so was already a bit unconventional, and in part because it’s just my style, I decided to sod it all and figure this matzoh ball thing out.

I did a bunch of reading and thinking on what I read and began to put a recipe together in my head for my idea of a good matzoh ball and soup.

It wasn’t a complete success, nor a complete failure. My first bummer moment was in making the stock. To my mind, the stock served with matzoh balls should be crystal clear. While I did follow a lot of the clear stock-making principles that I learned making phō, I neglected to cheesecloth-up the veg and other seasonings and let it come to a boil. I even tried a clarifying raft to see if I couldn’t rectify it. Also a failure as my egg white just stuck to the bottom of the pot:

The black bits are not from this adventure.

Oh bloody well. It took on a lot of the flavours from the original roasted turkey and I got a lot of collagen out of it, so it was lip-smackingly delicious.
Then it was time to move on to the matzoh balls. I had very little confidence going into this part of the adventure after all of the above + creating my own recipe, but these came out delightfully almost as I’d imagined. I wanted dumplings somewhere between fluffy and dense, floaters with substance…and with a lot of flavour…and keeping KFP, which means no leavening agents baking powder is a bit contentious). Those things I achieved:

Achieved after three test runs for size vs cook time vs doneness vs fluffiness.

The almost comes in at roundness. They were not round and I think them being properly rounded would improve consistency a bit. If you have any tips on making round matzo balls, I would love to hear all about them.

Here’s what I did for the matzoh balls:

What you need:

  • 1 cup of matzoh meal
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3/4 cup stock
  • 1/4 cup oil or schmaltz
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • 5 eggs, whites and yolks separated

What you do:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all but the egg whites and refrigerate.
  2. Whisk/mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  3. With a fork or a whisk, slowly stir the matzoh meal mix into the egg whites until we’ll combined.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the mixture into balls. There should be between 18-22.
  6. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the matzoh balls 6-8 at a time and reduce heat to a simmer.
  7. Let simmer for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  8. Repeat until all of the matzoh balls are cooked.
  9. Set the cooked matzoh balls aside until soup time.

The soup also got a bit silly because there were just so many things going on at the grocery store when I was shopping that were Kosher enough, but off the beaten path for your trad matzoh ball soup. I just can’t pass up big, gorgeous leeks or fennel bulbs when they’re available to me at decent prices. And those things have flavours so complementary to the turkey I cooked for the kick-off meal! I went with my intuition and 100% have no regrets. I would make this soup the same way again many times over…but perhaps with matzoh balls that are a bit more round.

Here’s the recipe for the soup:

What you need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups leek whites, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 liters of poultry stock
  • 2 cups of carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then in 1/4″ half-circles
  • 2 cups of fennel, roughly chopped in spoon-sized pieces
  • 1 liter of water
  • 3 cups of cooked turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, leeks, sumac and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are sweating.
  3. Add the stock, carrots and fennel.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  5. Stir in the water, turkey, parsley and dill.
  6. Taste test and season accordingly.
  7. Simmer until the carrots are just fork tender.
  8. Five to ten minutes before serving, add the number of matzo balls you intend to serve to the soup to heat up.
  9. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

The end product was a meal-worthy soup (as intended) and could easily feed six that way, 12 as a starter. I think I did pretty good for having zero assistance from Manischewitz‘s and will keep working on my matzo balls.


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