March 31, 2009

Of Matzoh And Men: Tofuless Matzoh Ball Soup

by IsaChandra

Where does the time go? I understand that my 17th year was spent beating Mario Brothers 3 on Nintendo 64, but what about this year? And the one before? I’ve played a little Cooking Mama, but video games can’t be the culprit here.

It’s actually been 5 years since Terry and I made the PPK Passover episode and made “Nazi Punks Fork Off” the official matzoh ball anthem. (Ever notice how few Passover songs there are?) Ever since that fateful day I have been shvitzing like a shlemazl trying to bring you a ferkafte matzoh ball soup recipe that didn’t contain tofu. I was farblonget, farmisht and ferklempt, but I persevered. (Anyone got a good yiddish word for persevering?)

And today I bring you Flaxen Matzoh Balls, via Julie Wiener’s article in the Jewish Week. Also in the article is a tropical spin on the latke made with yucca and a mango salsa. And if you want to do some heavy lifting this Passover, the heeb’n’vegan is always up to something to keep your brain in shape.

Hannukah was heartbreak city for me here in Portland. There were no electrical menorahs anywhere! Bubkis! On my last trip to NYC I safeguarded against the same eventuality for Passover and went on a crap finding mission, procuring Passover ephemera from the LES to the UES. I finally understand how my midwestern Jewish friends felt upon coming to NYC for the first time. Maybe not as romantic as our great grandparents on their ships approaching Ellis Island, but I’m sure their Greyhounds pulling into Port Authority moments to remember, too. Anyway, I found these Passover Masks at the Jewish Museum.

The ten plagues, in convenient mask form!

  • March 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm: Meg

    Those masks are awesome!!

  • March 31, 2009 at 2:38 pm: kimmykokonut

    LOVE the masks. I can’t wait to try the flaxen balls…I used to spend Passover with a college friend’s family in CT as a Jew-groupie and miss her mom’s Matzo Ball soup. I also strangely enjoyed dipping the parsley in salt water and eating it.

  • March 31, 2009 at 3:14 pm: SeitanSaidDance

    You and Terry look so cute!

    Passover is so lame; flax is on our banned list with tofu.

  • March 31, 2009 at 3:22 pm: DJ Karma

    Great mask! Why is it backwards? LOL!

  • March 31, 2009 at 4:07 pm: jd

    Since I’m now an honorary Jew in Portland, I appreciate this post!

    And I was shocked to see you’ve apparently posted more than once in the past month. Good job!!!!

  • March 31, 2009 at 5:22 pm: Jasmine

    I really want that flax matzoh ball soup recipe, but I can’t find it on that website. help please!

  • March 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm: IsaChandra

    At the very bottom of the page it says that the recipe can be found at JewishWeek. Click that link and the recipe pops us. Not very convenient, but there you go. Enjoy!

  • March 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm: Ziba

    I can’t get the matzoh ball link to work either! thanks for any help!

  • March 31, 2009 at 9:03 pm: IsaChandra

    Make sure that pop up windows are enabled when you click the link for at the bottom of the page.

  • March 31, 2009 at 9:48 pm: Ivy

    Yeah, I have the same problem and my pop-up windows are enabled.

  • March 31, 2009 at 9:49 pm: Ivy

    I thought nuts and seeds are OK for Passover, just not legumes, so flax seed would be OK. I think. I know peanuts are not OK because they’re technically legumes. Meanwhile, I’ve lived on matzo with peanut butter every Passover since I was a kid. Oh well.

  • March 31, 2009 at 10:18 pm: Lynn

    I have used your previous matzo ball recipe for years. I’m anxious to try the new one but simply cannot get the link at the bottom of the article to work and am sure my pop-ups are not blocked. Can you paste it into a blog entry?


  • March 31, 2009 at 10:37 pm: IsaChandra

    Note: these matzoh balls are more like the hard nugget type. The recipe with tofu in it is more light and fluffy.

    I’m asking Julie (the reporter) why the recipe link isn’t working. Here are the recipes, though:

    Yucca Latkes With Mango Salsa
    Makes about 18

    1 pound starchy white potatoes, peeled (russets, idaho, et al)
    1 1/2 pound peeled yucca
    1 small yellow onion, peeled
    1/4 cup potato or corn starch
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 cups matzoh meal
    Lots of vegetable oil

    If using a food processor:
    Use the grating blade to shredd the potatoes, yucca and the onion.

    If shredding by hand, use a grater to shred everything. Dice the onion as finely as possible.

    Have ready brown paper shopping bags or paper towels for draining the oil from the latkes. You may also want to have the oven on at 200 F to keep the latkes warm until you’re ready to serve. If serving immediately then just have a baking pan covered with tin foil ready to keep the finished ones warm after they’ve been drained.

    In a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix the potatoes, yucca and onions with the potato starch until the potatoes have released some moisture and the cornstarch is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

    Add the salt and pepper to combine. Add the matzoh meal and mix well. Set aside for about 10 minutes. The mixture should get liquid-y but sticky.

    In the meantime, preheat a large preferable cast iron but definitely non-stick skillet over medium heat, a little bit on the high side. Add about 1/4 inch layer of vegetable oil to the pan. The oil is hot enough when you throw a bit of batter in and bubbles rapidly form around it. If it immediately smokes then the heat is too high and you should lower it a bit. If the bubbles are really lazy then give it a few more minutes or turn the heat up a bit.

    With wet hands (so that the mixture doesn’t stick) roll into small golf ball sized balls. Flatten into thin round patties. I do about 4 to six at a time. Fry on one side for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip over and fry for another 3 minutes.

    Transfer to the paper towels and proceed with the remaining latkes. Once latkes have drained on both sides, place in a baking pan to keep warm.

    Apple Mango Salsa

    2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
    1 large mango, peeled and diced medium
    small red onion, diced
    1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    juice from two limes

    Mix all ingredients together. That’s all!

    Flaxen Matzoh Ball Soup
    Serves 6

    1 1/4 cups matzoh meal (about 4 sheets matzoh)
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup vegetable stock
    2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 carrot, peeled

    Matzoh Ball Soup

    1 1/4 cups matzoh meal (about 4 sheets matzoh)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup vegetable stock
    2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
    2 teaspoons cornstarch

    1 carrot, peeled

    In a mixing bowl, combine the matzoh meal with salt and pepper, set aside.

    In a separate bowl, mix together stock, flax seeds and cornstarch until cornstarch us dissolved.

    Mix the tofu mixture with the matzoh meal. Combine well, making sure that everything moist. Grate 1/2 the carrot into the mixture and combine until it’s well distributed. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight. You can’t skip this step, it’s important in making sure that the matzoh balls will not fall apart when boiled.

    When you are ready to form the balls, fill a large stock pot with enough water to fit all the matzoh balls with minimal touching. Salt the water generously, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer.

    Have handy a cutting board to line up the formed matzoh balls, and cover it with parchment paper if you have it, to prevent sticking. Also have handy a wet rag to wipe your hands on to make for clean hands for forming matzoh balls.

    Remove matzoh mixture from the fridge. Form into tightly packed, walnut sized balls. When all the balls are prepared, drop carefully into the boiling water, 1 or two at a time, with a spatula or slotted spoon. Simmer for about 40 minutes, with the pot covered. The matzoh balls will have floated to the top and will drop back down when lid is lifted. This is fun to watch.

    Now they are ready to serve, however, to make them even lighter, you can turn off the heat, cover the pot again, and let them sit in the water for another hour or so. This way they absorb more water and expand a bit more.

    Prepare the broth by placing it in a seperate pot. Grate the other half of the carrot into the broth, along with a healthy handful or fresh dill, roughly chopped. Bring to a low boil, and when it’s just heated you’re ready to prepare the bowls.

    With a slotted spoon, carefully remove matzoh balls and place 2 or 3 in a bowl. Ladle the broth over the matzoh balls, so that they’re covered only about half way. You can garnish with some more fresh dill, or parsley. Serve to whoever you love.

    If you are not serving the soup right away, you can refrigerate them over night, and boil them when ready, Some people even freeze leftovers, but I never have as there’s never been leftovers.

    For a stock recipe

  • March 31, 2009 at 11:25 pm: veggievixen

    i love jewish holidays, for both the ritual and the food! i am super excited to make vegetarian and vegan food this passover!!

  • April 1, 2009 at 6:35 am: Melisser

    Who knew lice are so cute?

  • April 1, 2009 at 9:56 am: t

    Who knew plagues were so adorabl?!

    I’m going to have to try the flaxen balls — I’m beginning to believe I can do ANYTHING with flax.

  • April 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm: tidbit

    I have mask envy!!

  • April 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm: Marla


    I’m technically from the Midwest (Chicago) but it’s totally easy to pull off the Jewish thing here, accessories and all. I grew up with an electric menorah rockin’ the house.


  • April 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm: jillrenee

    thanks for posting recipes; but the matzah balls are confusing; there’s two lists of ingredients, and the instructions mention tofu…

  • April 1, 2009 at 7:29 pm: IsaChandra

    Oh I am an idiot. I will fix that. The bottom recipe list is correct.

  • April 2, 2009 at 1:55 pm: Karen

    I made the white bean and leak cassulet from Veganomicon.

    it was freakn good. thanks for a great recipe. You can see pics on my blog…

  • April 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm: Pat Margulies

    I just found your Website via a search for a vegetarian matzo ball soup … and, wow, am I happy I did!

    I loved the new Passover video and the introduction to the two of you and your friends! Very fun !!! Marvelous and happy to see.

    Best wishes to you ….

  • April 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm: balabusta

    Did you mean to put potato starch instead of cornstarch in the new matzah balls? With cornstarch, the recipe is still allergy-friendly to people who can’t do eggs (and soy–I love your tofu matzah balls, but there is still a population I can’t knaidelize) but it doesn’t work for the eternally fussy Ashkenazi Pesach-observant vegans. I don’t know bupkiss about the kitniot status of flax.

    We got those masks for my kid.

    Also, I continue to think you are very wonderful.

  • April 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm: River (Wing-it Vegan)

    Nice balls, ladies! Sorry about the no electrical menorahs thing, but at least you have googly-eyed lice!

  • April 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm: ariel

    If you need a place for pesach there is room at our vegetarian table!

  • April 3, 2009 at 3:44 am: Neta

    Am I the only one who don’t see a problem in making eggless matzo balls? We make them all year long :) It’s one of the few things I like about this vegan-nightmare holiday.

  • April 3, 2009 at 3:52 am: Neta

    Oops, I forgot – Happy Passover!

  • April 3, 2009 at 9:57 am: Ivy

    Thanks for posting the recipes, Isa. The matzo ball soup recipe is confusing. There seem to be two sets of ingredients for it. Then it mentions the tofu mixture. Do you mean the flax mixture?

  • April 3, 2009 at 10:31 am: melomeals: Vegan For $3.33 a Day

    I remember watching this years ago! I wish you two could take over the freaken food network with your awesomness!

  • April 6, 2009 at 11:25 pm: Michael Croland

    Thanks for the heebnvegan plug. If it’s Passover Jew-punk you’re looking for, check out the brand-new songs by Electric Menorah:

  • April 7, 2009 at 1:28 am: miri

    Ack! Cornstarch isn’t kosher for pesach for Ashkenazim. Flax seeds are considered kitniyot by some rabbis, but not others, so the absence of consensus is good enough for me. Potato starch works great as a sub for the cornstarch.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • April 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm: Jennie Rivlin Roberts

    Amazing video. Thanks!

  • April 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm: Emily

    What’s with Passover and all the eggs? Oh so many eggs! Eggs and matzoh, eggs and fish, eggs and salt water, eggs and chocolate…etc etc. I am totally busting this one out at next year’s seders.

  • April 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm: Sara Henriques

    Help!! My matzo balls look like they’re falling apart in the water. I brought the water to a boil and then to a simmer when I put the little ones in, but thought the water should have been a bit more like a slow rolling boil. Now my water looks like a murky mess, even though when I checked some of them were still together under the water. Any suggestions? Thanks!! I love your recipes…They’re my go to for vegan delights:).

    • April 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm: IsaChandra

      The water does get murky, but did any balls actually fall apart?

  • April 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm: janet

    tofu is fine i think for ashenazi, i think it is sephardic who avoid legumes. I am trying to figure how to hold them together. which Portland? Maine or Seattle?