I cook a lot. At home, I’d say about 90% of what I cook is vegan. But when it comes to old school Jewish Gr’ma family recipes, I usually don’t fuck around. I’ll get some chicken and render schmaltz and the whole Megillah. Or Haggadah, as it were. I put eggs in the matzo balls and the big fluffy things with dense centers float to the top of the soup like doughy halos. If it ain’t broke, not only does it not need fixing, but messing with 200 generations of Jews and their soups is no small undertaking. Still, like Haggadahs change, so too, do we all. As humans, it is our central JOB to change. Our priorities shift and move, our bodies continue to have changing needs, and our FAMILIES change as we grow as well.
Like many enthusiastically queer people, we have a long tradition of collecting chosen families. While I’ve been lucky and blessed to still be welcome and celebrated in my family of origin, this is not often the case. We sometimes leave home, leave our towns, and come together into new families we build out of a different kind of mortar. A sweetness that bind queers together, that binds all people who fight to live together. And in this way, we make new families, we make new traditions, and we make soup.
Last night I got invited to a seder of my best friend Schaefer and her lady. I’ve known Schaef since I was 23, which makes this year our 20th anniversary together. We’ve seen each other through a TON of transitions, often over BBQ. But some years ago, Schaef became vegan and brought me a whole new set of creative challenges. I kind of love when a set of dinner guests have extensively different food preferences and needs. It helps me off the beaten path to new ideas and riffs on things. It’s like jamming for a garage band, except I don’t have a band and well, my kitchen outfits are decidedly less metal than a good rock band. Whatever. I have some good aprons.
Last night I tried two* things. And this one was epic. Stepping off the flagpole for a vegan Matzo Ball Soup was kind of intense. But guess what: This shit is off the hook. And it will come as no surprise that I believe the reason for this is the hippie dust. Now before you even begin, I want to point out that you need several hours, if not overnight for the ball dough to chill in the fridge. I had mine in there for like 4 hours and that seemed fine. This recipe is a mash-up of many ideas and experiences but a driving force was this recipe.
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
1c matzo meal
1/2c hippie dust (nutritional yeast)
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1t ground black pepper
1 package firm sprouted tofu
2T vegetable broth
1t coconut aminos, Bragg’s, or tamari
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then chop up your tofu into small hunks and put it in your blender with the oil, the tamari (Bragg’s or coconut aminos), and the vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You can use a food processor for this, but since my blender is out, I thought I’d see if it had the power to pull this off and it does. Now take your blender of silky vegan fluff and fold it into your hippie mix. Everything will come together nicely. Form the dough into the balls like you see above. I like mine kind of small to midsized. I used to love to make them as big as my head like they do at Canter’s in LA, but as life happens, my preferences changed. Now put the goods up to rest in the fridge for many hours. At least 4.
1 red onion
1T olive oil
4 stalks celery
6c homemade vegetable stock
1 1/2T celery salt
Heat your olive oil up in a big soup pot. Add your chopped onion, chopped parsnip, and chopped celery. Cook on medium until the onion and celery are translucent. Add the stock and the salt slowly and taste to make sure you like it. Bring everything to a boil and then turn down and let simmer. Get your balls out of the fridge and place them into the broth. Cover the soup for a half hour. When your timer goes off and you look, your balls will have floated on up and you will feel victorious and incredibile. Now let your soup cook for about an hour on low. Add the fresh parsley about ten minutes before you wanna eat. BAM.
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup: Dayenu!
*The other experiment I did was a gluten-free, sugar-free carrot cake. It turned out weird because I threw in some chia seeds and the flavor was off and whatever. The thing about experimenting is sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s FINE.
So here is my Passover offering to you. First some soup, and then this: May we all be free from the things that enslave us this Passover. And may we do what we can to free ourselves, and those that still suffer.