Passover

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

January  7, 2022
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Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

Vegan matzo ball soup doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. While the Ashkenazi Jewish dish of matzo-meal-and-egg dumplings poached in chicken broth is one of the finest comfort foods (so much so that some even call it “Jewish penicillin”), it obviously is not free of animal products. So what’s a vegan to do? Make this recipe, that’s what. With the help of carrots, celery, parsnips, alliums, and herbs, you can make a vegetable broth so rich and flavorful, no one will realize it’s chicken-free. A note on the onions: You can rinse them first, but make sure to leave them unpeeled—their skin has a natural pigment that will dye the broth that classic golden hue.

When it comes to the matzo balls, most of the standard vegan egg workarounds commonly found in baking, like chia or flaxseed and potato starch, make for dense, mushy matzo balls. Ultimately both aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas—if you'd like, stir the reserved chickpeas from the can into the finished soup) and a bit of chickpea flour proved the best solution when it comes to mimicking the texture of classic matzo balls. Like eggs in the traditional recipe, both chickpea-based ingredients bind and provide structure to the matzo balls, so that they hold their shape while poaching, and work with baking powder to provide lift.

While matzo ball soup can—and is!—eaten year-round, it’s traditionally made during Passover, when most leavened bread products are traded out for matzo. In some Ashkenazi households, legumes (like beans, lentils, and peanuts), as well as rice and corn, known as kitniyot, are also verboten. That said, as of 2016, the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents the interests of Conservative Jews, have ruled kitniyot, including chickpeas, are kosher for Passover. If that’s not your style, skip these matzo balls and just enjoy the broth. —Rebecca Firkser

Watch This Recipe
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
  • Prep time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • Vegan Broth & Soup Assembly
  • 8 celery stalks
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads garlic, unpeeled, halved crosswise
  • 2 medium yellow onions, unpeeled, halved through the root end
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, plus more freshly ground
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and aquafaba reserved (optional)
  • Freshly chopped dill, for serving
  • Vegan Matzo Balls
  • 1 cup matzo meal (not matzo ball mix)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup aquafaba, drained from a 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill, parsley, or a mixture of both
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Vegan Broth & Soup Assembly
  2. Chop 4 celery stalks, 3 carrots, and the parsnips into 2-inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottom pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Place the garlic and onions cut side down in the pot and arrange the chopped vegetables around. Let the vegetables char until deeply golden brown for about 3 minutes, then toss and let char for another 3 minutes. Add the peppercorns, half of the parsley, and a couple big pinches of salt. Toss and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until you can smell the pepper and herbs. Cover with 12 cups of water, stirring to scrape up any charred bits from the bottom of the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and let simmer until the mixture is slightly reduced, at least 1 hour or up to 4. This is a great time to make the matzo balls.
  3. Smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve (you should have about 10 cups) into a large bowl, then return to the original pot and heat over medium until it comes to a simmer. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Cover and keep over low heat until you’re ready to serve. If not serving for 3 hours or more, transfer the stock to heatproof containers, let cool completely, then refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. When you’re ready to serve, slice the remaining celery and carrots on the bias and transfer to the soup along with the canned chickpeas, if using. Simmer for 10 minutes to heat through, then ladle into bowls along with the cooked matzo balls and serve with dill and the remaining parsley.
  1. Vegan Matzo Balls
  2. In another medium bowl, use a fork to mix together the matzo meal, chickpea flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Use your hands to mix in the aquafaba, oil, herbs, and garlic. The mixture should form a sticky mass, like a cookie dough or porridge. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to hydrate.
  3. When you’re ready to make the matzo balls, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Form the matzo mixture into 1-inch balls (dip your hands in a cup of water to prevent sticking). Place each finished ball on a sheet pan or large plate. You should have about 20 matzo balls.
  4. Season the boiling water with lots of salt, as you would pasta, then gently drop in half of the matzo balls. The matzo balls should sink at first but will slowly start to float. Once all have floated to the surface of the water, reduce the heat to medium-high. Keeping the water at a gentle boil, cook until the matzo balls are slightly puffed (some bits of the exterior may come off while cooking, but most of the matzo ball should stay intact), 7 to 10 minutes. Check one after 7 minutes by slicing through and tasting—the exterior should be soft but not mushy; the interior should be slightly moist and darker than the exterior, but not sticky. Transfer the cooked matzo balls to a sheet pan. Bring the water back up to a boil (it’s okay to cook in the slightly cloudy water from the first batch, but you can swap out for fresh, boil, and salt again if you prefer), then cook the remaining matzo balls.
  5. Transfer the matzo balls to the bowls of the soup (they’re best if served immediately).

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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. These days, you can keep your eye out for her monthly budget recipe column, Nickel & Dine. Rebecca tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

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