Sometimes life just calls for a healthy bowl of hot matzo ball soup. This tasty soup is just what the doctor ordered with plenty of vegetables and soft fluffy matzo balls. It makes sense why this soup is also famously known as the “Jewish Penicillin.” I grew up eating matzo ball soup only on Rosh Hashanah and Passover, but now I make it on a regular basis for my own family.
There’s nothing better than a big bowl of vegetarian matzo ball soup to brighten up a gloomy day. Many variations and family traditions surround how matzo ball soup is made. Typically it’s a chicken soup, but my version has the classic flavors without the meat. The recipe is Pareve (containing neither dairy nor meat ingredients); I use oil instead of schmaltz (rendered chicken or goose fat). So let’s get started!
Note: The recipe was updated in October, 2022
What are Matzo Balls?
Matzo balls (Kneadelech in Yiddish) are light and fluffy dumplings made of matzo meal, eggs, oil, water, and seasoning. The mixture is then formed into balls and poached.
Vegetables: Onion, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and celery.
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.
Eggs: Helps bind the balls and give them structure.
Fat: Traditional matzo ball soup contains 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.
Baking powder: Baking powder produces light and fluffy matzo balls. If you prefer a denser matzo ball, cut the baking powder in half or omit it altogether.
Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, and fresh dill.
Floaters vs. Sinkers
Some people like dense and heavy matzo balls (“sinkers”), and some people like them light and fluffy (“floaters”).
Dense matzo balls stay on the bottom of the pot.
Light matzo balls should float to the surface of the pot while they’re cooking.
How to make dense matzo balls?
Omit the baking powder and cook the matzo balls for 10 to 20 minutes.
How to make light matzo balls?
Add anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon of baking powder (more baking powder will yield increasingly light matzo balls). Cook the matzo balls for 20 to 30 minutes.
How to Store Leftover Matzo Ball Soup?
Keeping the matzo balls and soup separate, store them in the fridge in air-tight containers or in Mason jars for up to 5 days. Reheat it on the stove or microwave when ready to eat it again.
Can You Freeze Matzo Balls?
The texture may not be as perfectly fluffy, but yes, you can freeze matzo balls. Let them cool completely and freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then transfer them to a ziplock bag or airtight container and freeze them for up to a month.
Reheat frozen matzo balls by simmering them in boiling water or stock until warmed through.
Cook Notes- My Personal Touch
I poach the matzo balls in salted water because I prefer a clear broth and not a cloudy broth. If you don’t care about that, go ahead and poach them directly in the broth you’re going to serve.
Hidden veggies: I like to add to the matzo mixture a few pieces of cooked veggies from the soup. I mash them with a fork and add them to the mixture; they add a lot of flavors.
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Vegetarian Matzo Ball (Kneadelech) Soup
For the soup
- About 3 quarts 2.8 liters water
- 3-5 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 2-4 zucchini roughly chopped
- 1-2 whole 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
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- pepper to taste
Matzo Balls (Kneadelech)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil + a little more if needed
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water+ a little more if needed
- 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) matzo meal
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder If you prefer a denser matzo ball, cut the baking powder in half or omit it altogether.
- 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
The vegetable soup:
- Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Simmer, cover, and let it cook for about an hour until the vegetables have lost all their crunch and their color has faded slightly. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Let it cool. Remove the parsley and cilantro.
- Strain the vegetables and keep them separated from the soup.
- Serve warm with matzo balls.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the oil with a fork until slightly puffy. Add water and matzo meal, and mix.
- Add salt, pepper, baking powder, and *optional* 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 to 30 minutes.
- After the matzo ball mix has been set, with wet or greased hands, create ping pong size balls. The mixture is going to be a little sticky, and that's ok.
- Bring a large pot of water with a spoon of salt, or your soup to a brisk boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and drop the matzo balls gently into the liquid.
- Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The balls should be floating on the surface and look soft and airy. Of course, you can cook them for longer, but I find that the best texture is around the 20 minutes mark.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the matzo balls from the water and place them on a plate or a tray.
- Ladle soup into individual serving bowls.
- Serve up bowls with plenty of cooked vegetables, matzo balls, and sprinkle dill if desired.