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Meatless Mondays: Not-My-Grandma’s Matzo Ball Soup

January 23rd 03:01pm, 2012

012312_MeatlessMonWe know what you’re thinking – another vegetarian column, really? Just give us a minute. Meatless Mondays is a movement that’s building across the country, one built not around a hatred of meat or a stance against the way animals are treated but rather a love for vegetables – and the health benefits that come along with them. While the Meatless Monday concept hasn’t quite picked up in St. Louis yet, we’re here to show you just how easily it could. From meat-free recipes to make at home to dishes around town that let the veggies truly shine – welcome to Meatless Mondays, a new weekly online column.

I know, I’ve jumped the gun (Passover isn’t until April.), but when temperatures drop below freezing, I long for a piping hot spoonful of homemade matzo ball soup. The fluffy matzo balls are so comforting, I want to snuggle up with one and use it like a pillow … a nice, warm, doughy pillow … that I then devour.

This recipe was passed down from my Jewish grandmother whose ancestors immigrated to America from Germany. OK, that’s a complete lie. Whilst my grandmother is Jewish and her family did come over from Germany, she was NOT a whiz in the kitchen. She actually used her oven for storage. Not just kitchen storage, everyday storage. Considering my brother and I both love to cook, we must have picked this up from the other side of the family (thanks, Dad!).

I did, however, pick this recipe up after eating many a bowl of matzo ball soup with my Grandma and then working to recreate the recipe with all of my favorite elements. I’ve also converted it to be chicken-schmaltz (melted chicken fat) free, as I opt to make my version meatless. Another tip I’ve picked up over the years (from a friend’s Grandma who does cook): Add some dill into the matzo balls. It freshens up the buttery flavor with an unexpected zest.

This dish doesn’t take long to make and it doesn’t matter what creed you adhere to … this is comfort food for all. Make it on a Monday night when you feel like you need some love back from your food. Or, if you’re anything like my Grandma, stop by Protzel’s Deli in Clayton and get it to go. Though you’ll have to wait till Tuesday; this old-school Jewish deli takes the day off on Mondays.

Not-My-Grandma’s Matzo Ball Soup
Adapted by Emily Luten from a recipe by Manischewitz
4 to 6 Servings

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
½ cup Manischewitz matzo meal
5 dashes dried dill
1 tsp. salt
8 cups plus 2 Tbsp. vegetable stock, divided
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

• In a medium bowl, combine the vegetable oil, eggs, matzo meal, dill and salt.
• Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock and mix together until uniform. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
• Add the olive oil to a large pot over high heat.
• Once the olive oil is warm but not smoking, add the celery and carrots to the pot.
• Add a liberal dose of freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
• Add the remaining 8 cups of vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil.
• While the pot is heating to a boil, form about 8 balls (about 1-inch in diameter) from the matzo mixture.
• Once the broth is boiling, drop each ball into the pot, one by one, being careful not to splash.
• Cover tightly and boil for 40 minutes.

By Emily Luten

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