The Simple Art of Cooking: Celebrate With Soup

At sundown tonight, Jews the world over will celebrate one of their most cherished traditions, the Passover Seder. The tale that is recited at this ceremonial dinner commemorates the Jewish deliverance from slavery as the participants read from the Haggadah and dine on the symbolic foods of the holiday. One of the symbolic foods is frequently the proverbial matzoh ball soup.

There is hardly anything that brings tradition closer to home as preparing a loved one’s family recipe. This was strongly felt by Dr. Paula Angelone, a dear friend and busy professional who nevertheless took the time to prepare her mother’s Italian chicken soup at a time of a friend’s need. With Easter on the horizon, I give instructions here to prepare the soup over a couple of days to refrigerate or freeze as necessary, and it’s ready when you are.

Each of the below soups is prepared with a base of good chicken stock, preferably homemade. Quality low-sodium chicken broth can be substituted. Just take the time to prepare either soup with love and tradition.

Classic Matzoh Ball Soup

Serves 8

For the matzoh balls

4 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly

ground pepper to taste

1 cup matzoh meal

1/2 cup seltzer

For the Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 parsnip peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts homemade or store-bought, low-sodium chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup minced fresh dill

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare the matzoh balls: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, salt, and pepper until well combined. Add matzoh meal and seltzer; stir to mix. Then cover bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Prepare the soup: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, parsnips, and garlic; cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add stock and bay leaves. Reduce heat and cook at a brisk simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. Do not allow liquid to come to a boil. Remove from heat; strain and discard solids. Add dill and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve. The soup can be prepared up to two days ahead and refrigerated in a suitable container.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Moisten hands with water and use your hands to form matzoh batter into 1 1/2-inch balls. Matzoh balls can be prepared ahead and placed in a freezer going container to freeze for up to 1 month. Frozen matzoh balls can be added directly to boiling water for serving.

To serve:

Place matzoh balls in boiling water. Cover and cook until light and fluffy, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat soup and carefully transfer matzoh balls to hot soup and serve immediately.

Paula’s Italian Chicken Soup

Serves 8 to 10

For the meatballs

1 pound ground turkey

1 large egg

1/3 cup coarsely ground breadcrumbs, preferably grain or whole wheat

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

About 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Water

For the soup

1 bunch escarole, stems removed

Kosher salt

1 medium onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 parsnip peeled and chopped

2 quarts homemade or store-bought, low-sodium chicken stock

Freshly ground pepper

Shredded cooked chicken (from preparing chicken stock or poach a chicken breast on the bone for 15 minutes then cool and shred)

Grated Parmesan, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1.To prepare the turkey meatballs: combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix until well blended. Roll mixture into small, 1/2 to 3/4–inch size pieces. Place meatballs on a baking sheet with about 1/2-inch water and bake for 10 minutes. Can be prepared ahead, cool, refrigerate or freeze in a suitable container with water they cooked in.

2. Place the escarole in boiling salted water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze dry and chop coarsely. Refrigerate in suitable container if doing ahead.

3. Place the vegetables in a large saucepan and pour on the stock. Cook at a brisk simmer, with cover ajar, for 25 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated or frozen in a suitable container.

4. When ready to serve, bring soup to room temperature and reheat. Add the cooked escarole and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to a simmer, and add the turkey meatballs and shredded chicken. Simmer until everything is heated through. Taste the soup for seasonings and serve hot with grated Parmesan on the side, if desired.

Visit Silvia’s website at savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.

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