Matzo Ball Soup for the Gentile Soul – A Good Friday Meal

Matzo Ball SoupIn our family, we commemorate Good Friday with Matzo Ball Soup – a traditional Passover dish – and homemade pretzels – a symbol for the Trinity.  Join us in remembering the Passion of the Lord in preparation for Easter through food!  This meal would also be appropriate for Holy Saturday.
The homemade pretzels are based off of the recipe in The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  If you do not have this book, you need it!  It will change the way that you cook in your home, not to mention save you a TON of money on bread and rolls.  Speaking of rolls, we will definitely be having some with our Lamb Stew on Easter, so be sure to check out that recipe as well!

Matzo Ball Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Prep Ahead, Holiday
Serve With: Pretzels (see below)
Prep: 15 minutes   Inactive: 2 hours   Cook: 30 minutes   Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan with lid
Serves: 6
You need to make the matzo ball mixture up ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.  Please note, this is not a kosher version of this recipe; if you need a kosher version, try this one here.  You can find matzo meal in the kosher food or seasonal (with the Easter candy) sections of most grocery stores.  If you can only find matzo crackers, you can process 1-2 sheets in a food processor until fine crumbs to make the matzo meal.  If you cannot find either, I am pretty sure that you can substitute saltine crackers.

STARTING PREPARATION:

None

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a bowl, combine the eggs, matzo meal, oil, water, and salt (it should be like wet sand).  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
  2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer.  While that is heating, form your matzo balls: With damp hands, gently roll 2 Tbsp of matzo mixture into balls (being carefully not to squash it down too much) and put on a plate.  Once the stock is simmering, add all the balls at once, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the balls are cooked through (if you cut one open, it will be the same color throughout when they are done).
  3. Serve the soup garnished with the dill and season with salt and pepper as desired.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Add 1 cup cooked diced chicken when cooking the matzo balls
  • Add 4 sliced carrots or 3 sliced parsnips

Pretzels

Prep: 10 minutes   Inactive: 2 hours   Cook: 30 minutes   Bake: 15 minutes
Time to Table: 45 minutes
Needed Equipment: Large saucepan, baking sheet
Serves: 6

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Mix up dough as described below

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 ¼ cups (1 lb) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ Tbsp salt
  • ½ Tbsp yeast
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add in the water and stir together – do not knead, but you may need to use your hands to get all the flour mixed in (you can also apparently use a dough hook on a mixer, but I have not tried that).  Cover with plastic wrap (not a towel – it will stick) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. After the dough has risen, fill the large saucepan about ¾ of the way full of water and add the baking soda and sugar.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Preheat the oven to 450F.
  3. While that is heating, shape your pretzels: Cut your dough into about 10 equal pieces.  Dust each piece with flour, then form it into a ball by pulling down and under (check out this video for a better description).  On a floured surface, roll the dough into a long thin snake – the longer and more consistently thick the better.  Form into a traditional pretzel shape (don’t worry if they don’t turn out quite right – they will still taste delicious!).
  4. Let the pretzels rest for about 20 minutes (it is going to take some time to form the pretzels, so your first batch will probably be ready to go into the pot when you are done).  Place a towel on the counter near the stove and dust with a little flour.  Add about half of the pretzels to the water.  After about 10 seconds flip them; let them go another 10 seconds then remove (if you leave them in too long, they get all poofy and waterlogged, but will still taste all right).  Place the pretzels on the towel.Repeat with the second batch (after they have rested).
  5. Place the pretzels on baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes (20-25 minutes for crispy pretzels).  Enjoy while still warm (if possible).  Save any leftovers in the freezer and reheat in the oven to keep the crispy crust!
This recipe is adapted from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

Meat-Free St. Patrick’s Day Meals

As St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday in Lent this year, here are some delicious meat-free options so that you can celebrate the day when we are all Irish (not to mention a great saint)!
St. Patrick's Day Cabbage and Potato Soup

St. Patrick’s Day Cabbage and Potato Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Holiday, Allergy Friendly (with modification), Vegetarian (Vegan with modification)
Serve With: Saltine or Oyster Crackers
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Time to Table: 40 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut potatoes according to directions (you can do this up to 1 day ahead of time and store in a bowl covered with water in the refrigerator – drain before using)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 ½ lb potatoes, chopped (peeled if desired)
  • ½ small head cabbage (about ¼ large head), chopped
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • Dash salt and pepper (more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium high heat.Add the garlic and saute (cook, stirring occasionally) for about 1 minute.Add in the broth, onion, and potatoes.Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Add in the cabbage, oregano, salt, and pepper.Cover and cook for 5 minutes.Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, cover and let sit about 10 minutes until the cabbage is soft but not overcooked.Serve topped with the feta cheese.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Add 15 oz Great Northern beans or 1 cup cooked chicken for a boost of protein
  • Omit the cheese or use a dairy-free version
Shepherd's Pie

 Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Needs Fulfilled: Holiday, Vegetarian/Vegan, Allergy Friendly (with substitution)
Serve With: Side Salad
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 50 minutes Time to Table: 60 minutes
Needed Equipment: 2 saucepans, casserole dish
Serves: 4
You can make this casserole up ahead of time and store covered in the refrigerator for a day – just bake and serve to have the meal on the table in 30 minutes!

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut celery, carrots, and potatoes according to directions (you can store the celery and carrots in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and the potatoes in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for up to 1 day – drain before using)

INGREDIENTS:

Mashed Potatoes (Topping):
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Filling:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 30 oz diced tomatoes (I prefer petite diced with no salt added)
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cover the potatoes with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and boil for 20-30 minutes until very tender. Drain the potatoes.
  2. While that is cooking, heat the oil in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft and golden. Add the remaining filling ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  3. Return the potatoes to the dry saucepan and put back on medium heat. Cook the potatoes, stirring often to dry them out a bit (2-3 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and continuing stirring until the potatoes are mashed. You may need to add additional oil if it is not turning out creamy enough. If they are not mashing enough, use a potato masher or ricer to finish mashing them.
  4. Place the filling in the casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until topping is golden.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You can substitute 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks for the potatoes if desired
  • You can omit the celery or carrots if needed and substitute or add other vegetables as desired such as ½ cup corn, 2 small turnips, or ½ cup peas.
  • For an option without legumes, you can use 1 ½ lb browned ground meat (omit the water)
Need more help getting started with meal planning?  Our meal planning coaches would be happy to help!
Credits: The cabbage and potato soup recipe is adapted from the “Lemon Potato Soup with Feta” recipe in the October 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.