Story and recipe by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC – Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt, starts on Monday evening. Here’s a family recipe for matzoh ball soup, a staple of the holiday.
The Passover Story
As every reader of the Old Testament knows, the Passover story is a tale of slavery, freedom and miracles.
Long ago, in the time of the Pharaohs, Jews from ancient Israel sought refuge in Egypt from a famine in the Holy Land. Things went well until a new Pharaoh came to power and enslaved the Jews for their valuable labor to build a new necropolis.
Moses rose up from the people of Israel and demanded freedom from the Pharaoh. 10 plagues were visited on the Egyptians and Pharaoh was forced to free the Jews.
In the Exodus from Egypt, the Jews fled in great haste, not even allowing time for bread to rise. This unleavened bread is called matzoh.
Matzoh is the symbolic heart of Passover, a food that represents both freedom and oppression. Many Passover dishes make use of matzoh.
Recipe: Matzoh Ball Soup
Matzoh balls are like dumplings. The soup is easy to make, delicious, nutritious and historically significant. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy matzoh ball soup.
The soup, or broth, is basically chicken stock. You can buy chicken stock at the supermarket, but it’s easy to make.
For my chicken stock, I save chicken bones in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When I have a bag of bones, I dump them in a pot, cover with water and simmer for 8 hours. Skim the fat and strain the floating bits and you have perfect chicken stock.
If you don’t have bones, you can just throw a small fryer in the pot and cover it with water. Simmer for eight hours, skim and strain.
You can actually buy matzoh ball mix at the supermarket (usually found in the International aisle). It’s basically just matzoh meal, or finely ground matzoh, almost a powder.
Mix a half cup of matzoh meal (or one packet, if you buy it in a box) with one egg and one tablespoon of oil. Stir the mix together and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Heat up you chicken stock to a slow boil. Get the chilled matzoh mix from the fridge and form small balls the size of marbles. Drop them in the stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
The matzoh balls more than double in size as they simmer in the stock, so start small.
Finishing the Soup – Dill
Dill may be the magic flavor ingredient – add it at the end so it’s delicate flavor doesn’t get boiled off.
Serve in a small bowl with two or three matzoh balls per serving. Cover with the dill-infused broth.
The recipe above is meant to be served as a course in a larger meal, so a simple soup works well. Think of it as Jewish miso.
But matzoh ball soup can also be a meal. Cut in some carrots, onions and celery, added some diced chicken and salt and pepper to taste.