Ma nishtana….Passover has always been my favorite Jewish holiday. I used to think this was because of the emphasis on social justice (‘A slave anywhere is a slave everywhere’), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it is because of family. Growing up, we always had our Seder in Pittsburgh, either at my Aunt Norma’s house in Squirrel Hill or my Great Aunt Mary’s house in Blairsville. Dozens and dozens of people from various family and social circles, weird but delicious food, a story of freedom, and lots of talk of politics. What always made Passover holy, to me, was hearing the stories from my grandparents and great aunts and uncles, larger than life figures with slightly yiddish accents arguing about American politics.
My grandfather, Jack, was always at the head of the table while his brother in law, my Uncle Kirk, lead the service out of haggadah so old and well used, you often were missing a page. I used to spend the whole day helping to set up – set the table, stir the soup, dust the tables, put out more bowls of chopped liver. And the smell. Oh, the smell of the chicken soup! To this day, it is one of my strongest scent memories of growing up. My Grandma’s soup was the best. Her matzo balls were floaters whereas everyone else’s were sinkers.
Passover remains my favorite of the Jewish holidays and I’ve always made an effort to spent it with my parents and mother in law, missing only a couple here and there in my adult life. I found solace yesterday in the fact that the seder plate I registered for as a wedding gift is the same one my own mother has, and I didn’t even know that when I registered for it.
When thinking of being home with just my spouse and kid, I kept thinking about how much I’d miss that soup. My mom’s is pretty good and a good substitute for my grandma’s. I didn’t want to buy from Hymie’s, largely because my husband doesn’t eat meat so chicken soup would be useless.
Enter, Imagine Foods Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth! Once I found this, I wondered how I could make it work for matzo ball soup at home that we could both eat. It does not have an aggressive vegetable flavor, but instead tastes like the central flavors of chicken stock – carrots and onion. Tooting my own horn here, but it was fantastic. Now you can make vegan (not on purpose) matzo ball soup at home! Note that I got the stock delivered via Instacart from Wegmans, but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and even Target before.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 2 onions, cut in half with the skin on (rinse it off)
- 4 celery stalks, cut into big chunks
- 2 tbsp(ish) of miso paste
- Half bunch of parsley, rinsed and ends cut off. Keep stems on.
- 2 quarts of Imagine Foods Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth
- Matzo ball recipe or mix of your choice
Sauté the vegetables with some salt in a large stock pot with the heated oil. Once coated in the oil, add in miso paste. Break up miso paste and stir to coat the vegetables and avoid large chunks of miso. Add in two quarts of stock, mixing to incorporate miso paste and add salt. Once boiling, stir and reduce heat. I let it cook on low for an hour or so (and boy did the house smell good). Once in a while, I’d skim any fat from the top and stir again. Taste soup along the way and add salt as desired. The broth turned a golden yellow and all veggie were soft. Strain the soup and store broth and veggies, which I chopped up a bit smaller, separately. When ready to make matzo balls, add directly to the stock to help absorb some of the flavor.
The soup got rave reviews from the only other consumer at the table, but trust me – This is the vegetarian matzo ball soup recipe you’ve been looking for.
Having just my husband and slightly cranky 6 year old at home, safe from illness and the uncertainty so many people around the world face right now gives new meaning to dayenu. From my small family to yours, we wish you a chag Pesach sameach / a gut yontif, / zissen Pesach.