Monday, October 19, 2009
Spicy Vegetable Matzoh Ball Soup
There are many reasons to embark on cooking projects. But last week, as unseasonable wintery winds were whipping through the cracks in our house, I had one main motivation: to cook meals that kept the stove and oven on as long as possible. Time for slow roasting, and batches of cookies. And soup.
Matzoh ball soup has a heavy rotation in our household, especially during the winter months. The traditional version is fairly simple: dumplings in a clear dill-scented broth, with just a few carrots and parsnips and a handful of noodles. It's delicious, and especially welcomed when you've got a sore throat or some sniffles. But sometimes you want something a bit more interesting. This matzoh ball soup is chock full of vegetables and spicy with chile flakes. It's like your favorite vegetable soup, with the added bonus of some delicious dumplings.
This batch makes a huge amount (I usually split it between two pots). Feel free to halve it, if you're not feeding an army, or make the full amount and freeze some.
Spicy Vegetable Matzoh Ball Soup
adapted from a recipe developed by Gillian Rosicky, via her sister
yields two large pots
There is an ongoing debate in the matzoh ball soup community about floaters vs. sinkers: whether your dumpling is tender or toothsome. These fall on the latter side of the spectrum. I think that a more substantial matzoh ball makes a nice complement to the vegetables in this soup, but if you favor a lighter dumpling, just reduce the amount of matzoh meal by a few tablespoons.
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 shallots, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 carrots, sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in a 1/2" dice
1/4 tsp cloves
a few hefty pinches chile flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
12 cups vegetable or chicken broth (more, if needed)
3 small zucchini, sliced into thick half-moons
8 shiitke mushrooms
2-3 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter or oil
5 scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp broth
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup matzoh meal
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Saute the onions, shallots, garlic, carrots and sweet potato until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the cloves and chile flakes. Pour in the broth and tomatoes, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
When you add the broth to the soup, prepare the matzoh balls: warm the butter or oil in a skillet over a medium heat, and cook the scallions until softened (this will just take a minute or two). Let cool somewhat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and broth with the spices, baking powder, and matzoh meal. Add the onions and their butter/oil, and chill in the refrigerator.
Return to the soup: after the onions and such have been simmering in the broth and tomatoes for 15 minutes, add the zucchini, broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Add more broth if needed. Simmer another 15 minutes. Take the matzoh ball dough out of the refrigerator (it will have been chilling about half an hour), and shape into small 1" balls, using either a small scoop, two spoons, or your hands (use some oil to keep it from sticking if you go this route). Plop these in the simmering soup as you shape them. Simmer another 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. You want the matzoh balls to be light and puffy and cooked through, and the vegetables to be very tender. When the soup is done, season to taste, and top with the fresh basil.