Thursday, 17 March 2011

Matzo Ball Soup/Jewish Penicillin

Today I have faced one of my many fears and after 6 years I finally went to the dentist.  I need 3 fillings. I need Grandma's matzo ball soup. 

My grandpa's family was Jewish, he came over the UK just before the war broke out. He married my Scottish Grandma and they lived happily ever after.

Despite the slightly tenuous link to my Jewish ancestry this soup was genuinely given more reverence than the doctor in times of illness when I was growing up. Although this was traditionally eaten at Passover, we had it whenever a roast chicken was made. From the little research I have done I don't think this recipe is remotely traditional but maybe if I use lots of Yiddish words that could be over looked? Except I don't really know any apart from...

Klutz - noun (slang) a clumsy person
Schlep - noun (slang) 1. A difficult journey 
                                  2. A clumsy person
Bubbe - noun grandmother

(I'm guessing I was a clumsy child?)

From what I understand this soup is traditionally quite thin with larger chunks of vegetables. This is a bit more gelatinous with lots of small chopped up vegetables and dense mid sized dumplings. I’m not going to be an autocrat and tell you exactly how to have your soup... I’m going to tell you how to make the Dallmann version. 

                                                                               Matzo ball soup

Serves 4 ish

2 large onions, fine cubes
3 fat cloves of garlic, very, very thinly sliced
2 carrots grated
3 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
small leek, very thinly sliced
chicken (whatever is left from the roast)
chicken stock
bay leaf

Gently fry off the onions and leek for a few minutes, try not to let them brown. 
Add the garlic and fry for another minute of two. 
Add the stock and the other vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Whilst you are waiting you can get started in on the matzo balls.

4 matzos
4 tbps chicken fat/vegetable oil
6 tbps stock
3 eggs

Beat the matzos to small flakes (as small as you can be bothered), add the wet ingredients and mix. Leave to stand for 20 minutes or so, make it into the balls and pop into the soup. The dumplings will take about 15 minutes to cook. It made me so happy to see them bobbing around in the broth. It’s amazing how that simple image took me back almost 20 years to Bubbe's kitchen.

Wonderful soups must be a granny thing as my grandmother-in-law-to-be is a bit of a dab hand as well. The secret to her soup is "don't scrimp on stock and have a third of the vegetables as onions". Following this advice I've never made a dud soup.  However, this principle may be stretched to its limit if you try out my little Brother’s soup combination of mushroom, turnip and aubergine. NOT RECOMMENDED.

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