Vegetarian Matzah Ball Soup
Vegetarian Matzah Ball Soup. (The Nosher via JTA)
(The Nosher via JTA) -- Let’s face it: There’s just something wonderfully soothing about seeing a steaming bowl of matzah ball soup with its pillowy-plump dumplings swimming in a bath of golden broth.
This healing vegetarian matzah ball soup delivers all the “ah” of its traditional cousin with precisely the right amount of goodness (and good-for-you-ness) thanks to a clever use of shiitake mushrooms, tomato paste and a pot full of seasonal vegetables. Whether you add our healthy matzah ball soup to your Friday night dinner routine or prepare a large pot for lazy Sunday afternoons for the family, this soup is certain to satisfy the stomach and soul.
When we first considered a vegetarian alternative to chicken soup, we knew that we didn’t want to use bouillon cubes, powders or vegetable broth. The question was, how could we create a deep, rich taste that would satisfy our family? The first thing we did was caramelize some tomato paste with olive oil in order to enhance the flavors of the tomatoes and oil; then we added fresh shiitake mushroom tops for their chicken-like texture and rich almost-smoky flavor.
Additional depth came from a cheesecloth bag filled with delicious ingredients — red and yellow onions (skins still on to create a rich-colored broth), carrot, parsnip and celery, dill, parsley and a whole head of garlic. We also cooked the matzah balls in the vegetable broth instead of cooking them separately, so they could absorb the flavor of the broth. The result was a rich, deep-flavored broth where the chicken was not missed.
This soup is easy to make and can be dressed up or down. Try serving it in an elegant china bowl with a steamed bundle of julienned carrots, zucchini and yellow squash for a sophisticated first course to a formal dinner. You can also cut plenty of root vegetables (sweet potato, turnips, butternut squash) into a large dice and cook together in the soup for a delicious more rustic soup.