Nothing says Passover like a bowl of homemade chicken soup with matzo balls. For the seder feasts, that's the way to go. But what about lunch on, say, day four of the week-long holiday? By that time, the idea of yet another matzo sandwich starts to get old. We wondered if some of the fresh spins on matzo ball soup -- including whole grain mixes -- might be a welcome addition.
By the way, if you're planning to stock up on kosher for Passover foods, now's the time to hit the stores. This year Passover begins on the evening of March 25 and, typically, shelves get pretty bare before the holiday even starts.
But back to what's new in the world of matzo balls. While we usually don't opt for soup in a box, we liked the idea and convenience of Streit's Whole Wheat Matzo Ball & Onion Soup mix. The time-saver here is the soup packet. To make the matzo balls you do pretty much the same dance as with homemade, mixing the matzo meal with eggs and oil. The mixture sits for 15 minutes, while you boil water and add the contents of the soup packet. Then, using wet hands, you roll walnut-sized matzo balls and drop them in the hot soup, where they simmer for half an hour. "This is tasty," noted one of our testers, between slurps of soup. The matzo balls were light and fluffy, but we found the broth too salty. If we were to make it again, we'd add some cut-up potatoes and carrots to the liquid, to counteract all that sodium.
Less salty and even more popular with our testers was Streit's Potato Dumpling & Vegetable Soup. These floaters could be characterized as cousins of matzo balls -- they are made the same way and contain matzo meal, but they also have dried potatoes. The dumplings puffed up perfectly, making for a very satisfying bowl of soup. We liked the strong white pepper flavor, but the vegetable broth was lacking in, well, veggies. We'd recommend adding either fresh or frozen, whatever you happen to have on hand.
In the past we've always purchased Manischewitz white flour matzo meal. So this year it was nice to discover a whole grain version. Surprisingly, the canister doesn't carry a recipe for matzo balls. Instead, the company seems to be pushing the product as a quick and easy breading for fish, meat and poultry. That sounds fine, but we couldn't see why it wouldn't work for matzo balls, as well, and we found a recipe on the Manischewitz website.
In the same way that whole grain bread can be denser than white, the whole grain matzo balls were less fluffy than traditional ones. If you happen to be a member of Team Golf Ball, then you'll enjoy the more solid texture. The advantage of making your own matzo balls is that you can spice them up however you see fit. We served them in a vegetable broth, but they would be a welcome addition to a traditional chicken soup.
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