The most treasured recipes in any culture are the ones that have been perfected over years and passed down generation after generation.
A couple weeks ago my sister and I spent an afternoon digging deep into our grandma’s recipe boxes. We became mesmerized by first, the beauty of our relative’s perfect cursive on obviously loved notecards; secondly, how my grandma could remember how to make literally every recipe without looking at the card; and lastly, just how much history those recipes on those cards held. We laughed as we shared memories of past Passover dinners, and reflected on the lessons we learned about the Jewish culture as well as the history of our own family on those evenings.
My earliest memories of Passover begin in my grandma’s apartment; rummaging through her jewelry dresser while the adults discussed politics and the Chicago Cubs and the smells of latkes and matzo ball soup embraced the air. In between wearing as much jewelry as possible and staring at Lake Michigan from the window, I would catch glimpses of the creation of these special meals, and in these moments my relatives would share their words of wisdom with my sisters and I. As soon as dinner began, my relatives would always reminisce about the story of their parents’ trip from Russia to America. I’ve heard this story hundreds of times but it never gets old. Whenever I am told this story, to this day, I am reminded of their bravery and their resilience. These moments of shared tradition taught me what it meant to be a strong Jewish woman, and as I grew older I credit my strength, and my ability to make a mean bowl of matzo ball soup, all to them.
In honor of Passover beginning this Friday night, I’ve included the Matzo Ball Soup recipe my sister and I wrote down that afternoon. This soup is sure to cure sickness, heartbreak, sadness, and even artist’s block- I promise.
Matzo Balls Makes 8 to 12 matzo balls
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock
2 to 3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 carrot, thinly sliced Chopped vegetables of your choice.
A few sprigs of dill
Mix all matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Bring 1 1/2 quarts of well-salted water to a brisk boil in a medium sized pot.
Reduce the flame. Run your hands under water so they are thoroughly wet. Form matzo balls by dropping spoonfuls of matzo ball batter approximately 1 inch in diameter into the palm of your wet hands and rolling them loosely into balls. Drop them into the simmering salt water one at a time. Cover the pot and cook them for 30 to 40 minutes.
About ten minutes before the matzo balls are ready, bring prepared chicken or vegetable stock to a simmer with the sliced carrot and other chopped vegetables of your choice in it. Ladle some soup and a couple matzo balls into each bowl and top with a couple snips of dill. Eat immediately.