I have fond childhood memories of matzo balls made by my favorite Jewish aunt. Matzo balls can be firm and chewy or light and fluffy, but hers, somewhere in between, were always just perfect. Of course, Aunt Ciel's traditional soup had a chicken base, which took hours to prepare. This faster vegetarian version tastes nearly as good.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
1/2 cup unsalted matzo meal
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon plus a dash of salt
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups coarsely chopped white cabbage
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 green onions, including the green parts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley salt
, to taste
freshly ground pepper
, to taste
To make the matzo balls, stir together the eggs, butter, and vegetable stock in a small bowl. Add the matzo meal, parsley, dill, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or for up to 8 hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add a dash of salt. Using wet hands or a small ice-cream scoop, form the dough into 12 balls about 1 inch in diameter. Drop the balls, one at a time, into the boiling water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the matzo balls are plump, tender, and cooked through. (Check the stove temperature occasionally; a hard boil will break the balls apart.)
To make the soup, combine the vegetable stock, cabbage, parsnip, bell pepper, celery and leaves, carrot, and bay leaf in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
When the matzo balls are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate.
For each serving, place 2 matzo balls in a shallow soup bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tips - Matzo meal is made from matzo, the thin, unleavened bread traditionally eaten during Jewish Passover. Both can be found in Jewish markets as well as most supermarkets.
Parsnips are a mild, sweet-tasting white root vegetable. Look for small parsnips, up to 8 inches in length; larger roots have a stronger flavor, a fibrous texture, and a woody center. Parsnips will keep for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator; the longer they are stored, the sweeter they become. Before using, peel to remove the waxy coating.
Refrigerate this soup and the matzo balls in separate covered containers for up to 3 days. It's easiest to assemble individual servings of the soup with the matzo balls and reheat them in the microwave. Or, reheat the soup and matzo balls together in a Dutch oven for no longer than 10 minutes, taking care not to break apart the matzo balls.