The High Holy Days are a little over a week away, and I’m already thinking of my menu. Since I always have vegetarian or vegan guests, I plan to have some dishes free from animal products for them to enjoy. Usually that means I look to the vegetable-friendly cuisines of the Sephardic and Middle Eastern traditions, but this year I have a hankering to serve some dishes from my own Eastern European heritage.
The Not Chicken Soup works well as a chicken soup alternative or as a vegetable stock to use in other recipes. Serve it on its own or with my Matzofu Balls, an eggless version of the classic Ashkenazi knaidlach. Made from matzah meal and silken tofu, these dumplings have the look and texture of the classic matzah ball. They taste best when served warm. I like to vary the recipe by adding 1⁄4 cup fresh minced flat leaf parsley when I add the matzah meal for beautiful green-flecked dumplings.
Not Chicken Soup
Makes about 9 cups
1 medium large onion, unpeeled
3-4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots, unpeeled
1 large parsnip, unpeeled
1 large russet baking potato, unpeeled
1 large turnip, unpeeled
8 small white or brown mushrooms
2 medium to large stalks of celery, with leaves
2 medium tomatoes, halved
1 bunch fresh parsley
about 10-12 cups water
1⁄2 plus 1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 plus 1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. turmeric
2-4 cups diced warm steamed vegetables, optional
finely chopped dill, optional
Remove outer layer of onion peel if dirty, trim roots and rinse unpeeled onion, cut in quarters and put in a large soup or stock pot. Add garlic cloves. Trim, scrub and rinse carrots, parsnip, potato and turnip. Cut into 1-inch pieces and add to pot. Wipe down mushrooms, trim off end of stem, cut in half and add to pot. Cut celery into 1-inch pieces and add to pot with tomatoes and parsley. Add water just to cover (use a little less rather than a little more). Add 1⁄2 tsp. salt, 1⁄4 tsp. pepper and turmeric, stir and bring to a low boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft and the broth is full tasting (30-45 minutes). If the broth is too strong, add water. If broth is too weak, remove cover, return to low boil and let cook until the broth is reduced to desired strength.
Strain soup, pressing down on vegetables to extract liquid. Discard solids. Return broth to pot and return to a simmer. Add remaining salt and pepper or to taste. If desired, serve by adding steamed vegetables to soup bowl, ladling in soup and sprinkling with dill.
12 oz. box soft silken tofu (shelf-stable aseptic package)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. turmeric
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄8 tsp. cayenne (ground red pepper)
1 cup matzah meal
1⁄2 cup unflavored seltzer
In large bowl, whip or beat tofu until smooth. Mix in oil, salt, turmeric, pepper, cayenne and matzah meal. Stir well. Add seltzer. Stir gently until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Put a large pot of water on the stove. Cover and heat to boil. Form batter into 1-inch balls. Add to pot once water boils. When water returns to a low boil, cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked and fluffy, about 20 to 25 minutes (cut one open, there should be no raw or hard spots).
Turn off heat. Hold in covered pot for up to an hour. Drain. Serve warm in hot soup. If needed, reheat in simmering water or broth.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.