The iconic Jewish soup
I avoided making this dish for many years. Traditionally, the main ingredient in the soup is chicken. I cannot stand the smell of chicken cooking in a soup. It reminds me of when I was sick, and my grandma made me chicken soup. She forced me to sip more. She said I would get stronger, but for me, it was like taking medicine. I call it “the Jewish Penicillin.” The vegetarian version is absolutely delicious, you won’t miss the chicken at all.
What are Matzo Balls Made Of?
Matzo balls are one of those Jewish foods that have so many variations. Matzo meal, fat, and eggs are standard ingredients. Beyond that, there are many other possibilities: potatoes, dill, baking soda… The mixture is then formed into balls and poached. It is a great dish to make all year round, but especially for Passover.
Vegetable (or chicken stock): You can make your own, but the store-bought stock will also work great.
Matzo meal (matza or matzah): Matzo meal is a kind of breadcrumb made from ground Matzot. Not to be confused with matzo ball mix, which is a pre-packaged mixture of matzo meal, spices (garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, etc.), and preservatives.
Fat: Chicken fat, also known as schmaltz, it’s a common ingredient in Jewish cooking and adds rich, delicious flavor. However, my Matzo Balls soup is vegetarian, so I use Canola oil.
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Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup and Kneadelech
For the soup
- 8-10 cups 2L vegetable stock
- 3 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 zucchini roughly chopped
- 1-2 onions without the peel (no need to cut)
- 1-2 potatoes peeled and cut into big chunks
- 8 celery sticks roughly chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch parsley
- ½ tablespoon salt or more to taste
- pepper to taste
Matzo Balls (Kneadelech)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil + a little more
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 2 cups (240 grams) matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- I like to add to the mixture a mashed piece of boiled potato and a mashed carrot from the soup. Trust me!
- 1 tablespoon salt for cooking the matzo balls
*Optional* for serving:
- 1/2 cup chopped dill leaves
- Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Simmer, and let it cook for about an hour and a half. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Let it cool.
- Remove the parsley and cilantro.
- I like to strain the vegetables and keep them separated from the soup.
- Serve warm with matzo balls.
Matzo Balls (Kneadelech):
- Beat the eggs and the oil with a fork until slightly puffy in a large bowl.
- Add water, matzo meal, and mix.
- Add salt, pepper, baking soda, and mashed vegetables. The mixture should be neither hard nor liquid. If too hard, add more water.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water with a spoon of salt to a brisk boil in a medium-sized pot.
- After the matzo ball mix has been set, with greased hands, create ping pong size balls.
- Drop the balls into the water.
- Leave it to boil until all the balls float to the top. Once the balls float, let them cook for another 5-10 minutes. The longer you cook them, the more fluffy and airy they will become.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the matzo balls from the water and place on a plate or a tray.
- Ladle soup into individual serving bowls.
- Serve up bowls with plenty of cooked vegetables, kneadelech, and sprinkle dill if desired.
Tips and Tricks:
- If you like hard and dense matzo balls, let them cook for five more minutes after floating. If you like very light and fluffy matzo balls, let them cook for 15-20 more minutes after floating.
- If you like the kneadelech dense, skip on the baking soda.
- Put the kneadelech in the soup just before serving.
- Kneadelech can be made 2-3 days ahead
- You can cook the kneadelech in the soup, personally; I prefer to cook them separately. Keep refrigerated.