The actress Natalie Portman was seeking a good vegan matzo ball soup, and the result is this recipe: soft matzo balls that hold together thanks to a little help from chickpeas. Matzo meal, potato starch, a little olive oil and lots of ginger, dill and cilantro lend plenty of flavor, while chickpea water (known as aquafaba) provides binding that would otherwise come from eggs. You can use the liquid from canned chickpeas, but the liquid from dry chickpeas soaked, then cooked in water works best. Ginger and nutmeg are characteristics of German-Jewish matzo balls, while the Yemenite addition of cilantro and dill adds even more brightness and flavor. Natalie is right: “It’s a very sad world without good matzo balls.”
Preparation of Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
Step 1. Make the matzo balls: In a medium bowl, mix the matzo meal, potato starch, parsley, cilantro, ginger, dill, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the olive oil and enough chickpea liquid to make a slightly sticky mixture that’s not too wet or loose, about the texture of oatmeal. (The matzo meal will absorb lots of the liquid.) Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Step 2. Make the broth: In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the carrots, celery, kohlrabi, leek, onion, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
Step 3. When the matzo mix is cold, return the broth to a low simmer. Dip your hands in cold water and form 1 1/2-inch matzo balls, about the size of a large walnut. You should have about 20 matzo balls.
Step 4. Carefully drop the matzo balls into the broth, cover and simmer without disturbing them until tender but firm, about 20 minutes. Divide among bowls. Garnish with lots of fresh herbs, and, if you want more punch to your soup, serve with some zhug or harissa.