Sunday, February 13, 2011

Matzah Ball Soup (Not Kosher for passover)

Fun Fact: I don't eat cheeseburgers.

While I really just have a complex relationship with cheese, most people assume that I, like many jews, keep kosher. For the uninitiated, the Kashrut is a set of dietary laws governing what jews should eat, and how they should prepare and prepare for meals.I take no issue with these practices. Some of my favorite things, like the practice of bathing daily and kosher-style deli derive from observation of the Kashrut, or "keeping kosher." However, observation of kosher law requires that most of what makes meat taste good is removed during preparation, and that some foods, like pork (bacon!), scavengers and bottom feeders (catfish!), and shellfish (shellfish!) are "treif," and unfit for consumption. I have enormous respect for people that go to significant lengths to observe the kashrut in an increasingly secular world, but as should be abundantly clear, keeping kosher falls strictly in the "not for me" column (bacon!). Nontheless, I extend my sincere apologies for my extremely unkosher interpretation of this jewish standard. Look away.

So, now that that's out of way, it turns out that you can make some really tasty jewish food with pig fat. Also, it's taken a few months, but here are our first balls!

Matzah balls are a surprisingly contentious subject amongst many jews; everybody's grandmother makes them a bit differently, and they range in consistency from light and fluffy to something vaguely akin to a shotput. I like mine somewhere in the middle - consistent, but not dense. The wonderful thing about all balls, however, is that they are largely fluid and take up the flavors of whatever they cook in. Traditional chicken stock with vegetables works well. It turns out that cayenne and smoked sausage also works pretty well.

You'll need:

Matzah Meal
Onion powder
2 eggs
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Chopped garlic
1 lb Andouille or other heavily smoked pork sausage, 1/4" slices
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
Cayenne pepper
Chicken stock

First, make your balls:

Season 1/2 cup matzah meal with a bit of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt to taste. If you're lazy, the good people at Manischewitz make a decent mix that you can find in most kosher sections at your local grocer. Then for added kick, add cayenne, hot paprika, and chopped garlic for some flavor and texture. Don't overdo it! You're going to be added a lot of flavor during the cooking process, this is just going to accent it.

Mix in 2 beaten eggs, and 2 tbsp EVOO (alternatively, you could use a more traditional Schmaltz here - personally, I like my cardiovascular apparatus, but I suspect it would make for some delicious balls). You should have a fairly dense, uniform dough. With freshly washed hands, form the dough into 8 - 10 small, tight balls, not more than an inch in diameter. Don't worry, your balls will swell to over twice their size. Trust me. Refrigerate your balls (at least 15 minutes) until your stock is ready.

While your balls are cooling off, get your soup going. Coat the bottom of a stock pot (at least 8 qt) with just enough olive oil to start sauteeing the chopped onion, seasoned to taste (salt, cayenne, garlic, go nuts). Once browned, add in the sausage slices, and brown - if you've got good sausage, the pork fat should be rendering nicely. After 5 or so, you should have nicely browned onion and sausage. Chopped peppers and celery, or other vegetables make for a nice soup as well, and can be added with the sausage.

Once you're all set, add 2 quarts of chicken stock, stir, and quickly bring to a boil. Now, recover your balls from the fridge, and add gently to the boiling soup. Reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for 20 - 30 minutes. You should be all set. I don't promise that it'll look pretty, but it should taste great.

Enjoy my balls!


  1. I'm glad to see that you've paired the balls with their natural counterpart: Sausage.

  2. And it only took 3000 years!

  3. I haven't figured out how to write a comment for this post that doesn't have me channel a twelve year-old boy...

  4. Go for it! Clearly, my inner 12 year old was at the wheel for most of this entry.