After a few beautiful “California winter” days, the weather just turned rainy and gray and cold and ick. Even with a vacation coming up and the intoxicating smells of challah bread coming from the kitchen, I couldn’t get over the funk I was in and I really wanted some comfort food. Had those days?
Comfort food for me isn’t always about calorie-laden foods, but about smells and experiences that evoke happy memories. When the Godfather and I were students at the University of Miami (GO CANES!), there was a restaurant building about a mile away from campus that rotated through restaurants every few months. Most were unmemorable and wouldn’t survive even if they had been in a more accessible building, but there was one – The Diner – that holds a special place in our college experience. They had a few good dishes, but our favorite was the matzo ball soup. When we needed a light meal and an escape from campus later in the evening after all the delis closed, we would go and enjoy a bowl in one of their tall modern booths. Like all restaurants in that location, it closed after about 10 months and the late-night matzo soup runs ended.
After we moved away, we realized matzo ball soup wasn’t very easy to come by and so we started buying the box mixes, but it just wasn’t the same. Too salty and bland. I started my matzo soup journey by doctoring the box mixes, using less of the broth packet and adding a few vegetables. You know that kitchen voice that chimes in every once in a while and asks you “What ARE you DOING!?! You can MAKE this!”???
It didn’t say a word to me for at least a year.
Then one day, it spoke and I went to Google. I found a few recipes for making matzo balls from scratch and read everyone’s opinion on what should and shouldn’t go into the broth, what makes a “real” matzo ball soup vs. one doctored by the culinary community or “those that don’t know better” into some unrecognizable concoction in a bowl masquerading as comfort food. So much passion over soup. I get it.
When the time is available and I have the ingredients on hand, I do enjoy making matzo ball soup entirely from scratch, but this is not that post. This post is about those days when you want something and you want it right. now.
We try not to keep many convenience foods in the pantry, but you’ll often find a box of matzo ball mix… not the soup mix!… tucked away in the back of our pantry for just such a day. A day when a bowl of comforting soup and a thick slice of homemade bread are all you need to warm your soul and make the weather blahs go away.
Weekday Matzo Ball Soup
- 1 packet of matzo ball mix + eggs and oil as called for on the package
- 1 ½ tbsp dry parsley (or 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley)
- 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (less if you insist)
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- ½ onion, chopped (or in this case, 2-3 stalks of green onion)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt as needed
1. Prep the matzo ball mix according to the package. Add the parsley to give the matzo balls some additional flavor. Place in the refrigerator to firm up before rolling into balls.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in your soup pan and add the garlic and onions
. Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant, then add the rest of
3. While the broth is coming to a boil, pull out the matzo meal mix and form the matzo balls. Drop balls one by one into the boiling soup. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes.the vegetables and cook another 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
4. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve warm, preferably with fresh bread. The Godmother’s Test Kitchen was experimenting with a garlic chive challah (pictured).