I was super stumped for the longest time, days actually, but I was having fun pondering. I would think of a food, and then imagine how that food made me feel. That’s how it finally came to me.
There is nothing, not even close, nothing else in this world, that gives me the same warm-and-fuzzy safe-at-home comforting feeling, as my OtherMother’s homemade chicken and matzo ball soup. Hot, salty broth (with plenty of parsley), generous pieces of fork-tender carrots and celery. And of course, those delicate, fluffy, oh-so-soft dough balls.
That is my dying wish of a meal.
And so I set about recreating it – veganized of course! – just in time for Hanukkah. I know that matzo ball soup is more often eaten for Passover, but I really associate it with this holiday. If you’re more of a traditionalist, just bookmark the recipe for spring.
Also, I know that there’s quite a few vegan matzo ball recipes floating around the Internet. I know because I’ve tried most of them over the years, and unfortunately, I’ve had nothing but failures. My matzo balls always disintegrate into matzo fluff! Figuring out an egg-free matzo ball was not an easy task, but I finally did it, and these babies are well-bound. They’ll stay together, I promise!
1 cup matzo meal (matzo ball soup mix is pictured, but I recommend buying plain matzo meal)
3 egg replacer “eggs” (flax eggs work, but will change the flavor)
6 oz silken tofu (1/2 package)
1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, like canola
16 cups vegetable broth, either homemade or salted bouillon cubes (NOT boxed broth)
medium yellow onion, chopped large
3-5 carrots, cut into thirds
3-5 ribs celery, cut into thirds
oil for sautéing
small bunch parsley, diced (a few sprigs reserved for garnish)
The night before or morning of: Make your “eggs” according to instructions on the package (for flax eggs see here) and place in the refrigerator to set up. In the meantime, place the tofu and oil in a food processor and combine until smooth. Add the matzo meal and “eggs” and blend completely. Place this mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
To make the soup: Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment paper. Using water-wet hands, form the chilled matzo dough into balls, roughly 1-2 inches in diameter. Pace them on the parchment paper-lined tray, then put the tray in the refrigerator to keep the matzo balls chilled.
In a big soup pot, heat the vegetable broth, bringing to a boil then reducing to a slow simmer. Meanwhile, set a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil for sautéing, then add the onion. Sauté until glassy. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking, but be careful not to burn the onions. Reduce heat if necessary. When the carrots have brightened nicely, transfer the entire contents to the soup pot. Stir in the parsley as well.
Place the dehydrated soy curls in a big bowl. Ladle some of the hot broth into the bowl, enough to cover. Allow the soy curls to rehydrate for a few minutes, and get the sauté pan hot again. Add the olive oil, allow it to head up, and then transfer the soy curls (not the broth) to the hot pan. Add the spice mix and stir frequently. The leftover broth can go back into the soup pot. When the soy curls are nicely browned you can remove the pan from the heat.
While the soy curls are cooking, remove the matzo balls from the fridge. Drop them one by one into the soup pot. It is very important to keep a LOW simmer. If there’s too much action the matzo balls won’t make it, so no rolling boil! Once all the matzo balls are in, cover the pot and keep that lid tight for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the lid, add the soy curls, stir, and serve. Garnish with a bit of parsley.
This recipe is a *spot on* recreation of my OtherMother’s chicken and matzo ball soup, which I used to eat and eat and eat until I had to unbutton my pants. Comfort food at it’s absolute finest, as far as I’m concerned. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!