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There are certain foods that immediately transport me back to my childhood. At the top of that list would be my Nana’s matzo ball soup.  There was something about it that always comforted me, made me feel safe and put a smile on my face. Every time she made it, the smell of fresh dill would fill her house and I couldn’t wait until she called us to the dinner table.

When I stopped eating meat, almost a year ago, I dreaded the idea of never being able to feel that feeling again. In fact, all of my Nana’s favorite recipes have meat in them. I began trying to figure out ways to rework her recipes, without the meat. This week, I tried making matzo ball soup without the chicken and I was shocked that it was just as good! While my relatives would probably disagree (because they haven’t tried it yet), I would say that this one is a close 2nd to hers.

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

Ingredients

  • Broth
  • 8 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 6 cubes vegetable bouillon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Soup Ingredients
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced parsnip
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Matzo Balls
  • Matzo Meal / Matzo Ball Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Instructions

  1. In a large pot combine water/vegetable broth, large onion, celery with leaves, fresh parsley, fresh dill, parsnip, peppercorns, bouillon, bay leaf, celery seed, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 4 hours.
  2. Strain stock, set aside whole veggies (we love to eat those while we wait for the soup).
  3. Return stock to pot and stir in sliced veggies and spices.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix eggs, vegetable oil and matzo meal. Stir with a fork until evenly mixed.
  6. Chill in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add salt (optional).
  8. Remove chilled mixture from the refrigerator.
  9. Wet hands and form batter into balls, approx. 1 in in diameter.
  10. Drop matzo balls into boiling water.
  11. Cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  12. Drain and add matzo balls to each bowl and fill it with soup.
  13. Top with fresh dill.
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What is Matzo Ball Soup?

If you’ve never tried matzo ball soup, it’s basically chicken soup with fresh vegetables and matzo balls (small dumplings made of seasoned matzo meal, egg and vegetable oil).  They are light and fluffy (when made correctly) and soak up all of the soup flavor. It was often our appetizer for holiday dinners. My Nana would occasionally add small noodles as well, especially when we weren’t feeling well.  Her key ingredient was always fresh dill. The more, the better! Still to this day, whenever I use it, I think of her.

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I’m excited to share this vegetarian version with you. If you don’t eat chicken, or want to try a different take on traditional matzo ball soup, I’d love for you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

Have you ever had matzo ball soup? Is there a specific meal that brings you back to your childhood? Comment below and let us know!

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Looking for a vegetarian option of the classic Matzo Ball Soup? Check out this recipe. Just slight changes and still taste just as good.