PERSIAN "MATZOH BALL" SOUP


I bought Louisa Shafia's The New Persian Kitchen ages ago, but we hadn't put it to proper use until last week. When I first brought her beautiful book home, I bookmarked a bunch of tempting recipe, but as with so many of my cookbooks, I love to peruse the recipes and pages yet I don't always carve out the time to cook from them. I'm glad I finally took the plunge with Louisa.

Despite the crazy summer weather we're having here in the Bay Area, everyone in my little family has been battling sniffles, coughs and belly aches over the past few weeks, and we've been in serious need of comfort food. The kids always ask for Paul's classic and simple chicken soup. My Cozy Winter Stew (recipe in my book) is on heavy rotation around here and always a crowd-pleaser, but I've also been craving something new.

Louisa's Persian twist on Matzoh Ball Soup totally satisfies - the hints of turmeric and cardamom warm the belly; homemade chicken broth soothes; citrus juice, dill, and baby spinach bring out amazing freshness; and the dumplings - made with chickpea flour, onion, spices and ground chicken (vegetarian friends, you can use tofu instead) - are the worthy heroes of this dish. The "matzoh balls" are fluffy in texture, yet dense with protein and flavor. Thank goodness we finally tried this soup... I strongly suggest you do the same. Pronto.


INGREDIENTS adapted from Louisa Shafia's The New Persian Kitchen
Serves 4-6
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey or tofu
  • 12 cups homemade chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 large carrot or 6 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh dill, parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Lime wedges for serving*
  • optional: a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves (Note: Louisa doesn't call for any greens, but I can't help myself. I love wilted greens in soup!)

* Louisa's recipe called for 4 dried limes to add to the broth, but I wasn't able to find them at my local market, so I squeezed in fresh lime juice at serving time.

At least 4 hours before you want to eat, or even the night before you want to serve the soup, prep the matzoh balls. Get out your food processor and puree the yellow onions. Scoop pureed onions into a large mixing bowl and whisk in egg, minced garlic, cardamom, turmeric, grapeseed oil, 2 teaspoons salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Finally add chickpea flour and ground chicken. Stir to combine. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 4 -24 hours. You'll need the batter to be chilled in order to form the balls later.

After adequate chilling, go ahead and form little round dumplings with your hands. First, wet your hands with cool tap water, then pinch off walnut-sized pieces and roll to make your "matzoh" balls.

In the meantime, in a large stockpot or Dutch Oven, heat 12 cups of broth (with 2 teaspoons sea salt) until it reaches a rolling boil. One at a time, carefully lower dumplings to the hot broth. (I found that I had more dumplings than I needed or that would fit properly into pot, so I saved a batch to make more soup the next day. I think you could also freeze any extra dumplings.) Cover the pot, turn the heat to low so that the broth simmers and let the dumplings cook for 50 minutes. When the dumplings are done, they will be firm in the center.

Use a slotted spoon to remove cooked dumplings from the broth and briefly set aside. Add sliced carrots and chickpeas to the hot broth. Bring liquid to a boil, then lower heat, simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add fresh lemon juice just before serving, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

For each serving, place 3-5 matzoh balls into a bowl. Add a handful of baby spinach, if that appeals to you. Ladle the soup over the top. Top with plenty of fresh herbs, squeeze on fresh lime and add a little salt or pepper to your liking.

Enjoy!

P.S. That beautiful bowl in the top photo was a gift from my amazingly talented friend, Sarah Kersten.


53 comments:

  1. It looks and sounds fabulous! Beautiful flavours going on in there.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rosa. I love Louisa's book. I cannot wait to make more of her recipes! xo E

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  2. This looks so delicious. I've never made something quite like this, but I love, love, love turmeric! The book looks interesting; I'll have to check it out. And I'll definitely be trying this soup :-)

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    1. Kristin, the book is great and I love this recipe. I'm with you... turmeric is a favorite of mine. I'm thinking of using the fresh root next time I make this recipe.
      xo
      E

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    2. That's just what I was thinking! The fresh root has a wonderful earthiness to it.

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    3. Totally! And it's crazy good for you:)

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  3. I've got a cold at the moment and this looks so good just what I need also love the addition of dill.

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    1. I hope you feel better Rebecca. There have been some stubborn bugs going 'round lately. (And yes I'm with you... LOVE the dill.)
      xo
      E

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  4. What a fantastic twist on a traditional soup! This is a must make! I have not heard of her cookbook and will have to check it out. Looks like our fab weather is now a thing of the past and the chill is in the air - how great would this soup be. Have a great week! Cheers!!

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    1. Lisa, I think you'd love this recipe and the book in general. The spices, flavor combos... all with simple preparation and a wonderful freshness.
      Yep, the chill is back today. I'm ready to cozy up a bit more, and to make more soups:)
      Xoxo,
      E

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  5. I'm really excited to try this, but as the only soup fan in my household, I was wondering if it would freeze well?

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    1. Hey Liz, I just freezed a couple of servings and I think it will be delish. I have a feeling the dumplings will crumble a bit, but otherwise all should be fine. I'm thinking that ideally, one could freeze the dumplings separately and add the citrus and fresh herbs the broth at reheating time.
      xo
      E

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  6. I want to dive right in there. Love how nourishing those "matzoh" balls are. Hope you and your peeps are all better.

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    1. Thanks Katie! I think the soup helped. We're (finally) mostly well around here.
      xoxo
      E

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  7. I totally have (and love) that book! I'm sorry to hear your family has been under the weather -- we've been battling colds ALLLLL winter. At least we've got this summery weather :) xoxo

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    1. It's a great book, isn't it? I want to make those beet burgers... have you tried them?
      Sorry to hear that you guys have been sick too. It's been a nasty year for bugs:(
      xoxo
      E

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  8. Viva la matzoh ball soup--when made well, it's my favorite. I can't wait to try this version with a stack of Sangak! Happy Feasting!

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  9. I've been thinking about making soup, too, when -- bam -- we get this strange, but nice, summer weather in winter. It's crazy, huh? This soup is so beautiful, though, that I'd gladly enjoy it even on a scorching day. Plus, you can't beat those earthy and bright Persian flavors.

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    1. Carolyn, I know! This weather is crazy, isn't it? Regardless, I figured we can all use a great soup recipe. I'm happy to eat from a warm bowl, year round:)
      xoxo
      E

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  10. I woke up this morning feeling like I was coming down with something so I think I need a bowl of this goodness asap. I hope you + the family feel better soon xo

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    1. Oh no, I hope you stay well, Kathryn.
      My husband's sick now.... another one down in the Scott household:( Time for another batch of soup.
      xoxo
      E

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  11. Oh wow! This sounds wonderful, will have to check out that book, thanks for the recommendation!

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    Replies
    1. Kate, it's a great book. So many wonderful recipes and flavors!

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  12. Wow! If this doesn't cure the sniffles I'll be very surprised!

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    1. It's good stuff. Light and hearty at the same time. Just made another batch for my ailing hubby.
      Hope you are staying well!
      xoxo
      E

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  13. a) that bowl is just lovely! b) DUMPLING SOUP, my favorite! And with a great tofu option, as well. Sounds wonderful. I feel sort of spoiled that so much of the country is suffering from miserable winter weather, while here (and where you are!) it is balmy and sunny. I took my motorcycle out, and everything! Wheee. Well I hope this soup does the trick and helps shake off the remaining sniffles and tummy-aches. Be well!

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    1. I love that you have a motorcycle to take out. Good for you, woman!

      Yes, I know... I feel kinda guilty about this balmy weather. It feels wrong, but damn if it doesn't feel pretty good at the same time;)

      I hope you guys are well!
      xoxo E

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  14. I used to work at a country club, and this was my favorite soup that they served. I would love to try making this for myself at home!

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  15. This looks wonderful, Erin! I love the chickpea flour dumplings and the additions of turmeric and cardamom. I'm hoping to add that book to my collection too! xo

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    1. Hey there Christine, thanks for stopping by. Louisa's book is wonderful - a worthy addition to any cookbook collection:)

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  16. Looks deliciouus!!! Perfect for a cold day <3

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/

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  17. The weather HAS been crazy warm, right? I got to campus and found myself SWEATING from the walk the other day. Yet somehow the sniffles manage their way in. I love the chickpea matzoh balls in this soup - I'm going to bookmark this for when I (inevitably) catch my yearly cold.

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    1. Sarah I hope you stay cold-free, but when (if!) the weather goes gray again, I think you'll love this soup. It's a new fave around here.
      For now, enjoy the sunshine!
      xoxo
      E

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  18. Aww, I'd die for a soup like that right now :)

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    1. Lily, I wish I could share a bowl with you through the ether;)

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  19. What a beautiful recipe and your photos are just gorgeous! A warm hug from freezing NY for you :)

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    1. Hey there Najwa! I'm so sorry to hear about the frigid weather you guys are having. Stay warm and cozy with that cute family of yours. xoxoxo

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  20. This sounds so delicious! I've been feeling a pull toward Persian cookbooks lately, and now I have another to add to my wishlist. The chickpea flour matzoh balls are so interesting!

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    1. You feel the pull too Lisa? I'm so drawn to Persian flavors... now I just need to do more cooking and less dreaming;)
      Hope you're well!
      xoxo
      E

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  21. Hi Erin, I've seen fresh turmeric at the farmers market and have been a little afraid to try it, always use ground. Nice recipe!

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    1. Hey Cheri, fresh turmeric is great stuff! I hope you enjoy, but do beware of your counter tops... The stuff seriously stains!
      xo
      E

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  22. such a healthy and simply delicious meal!

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  23. Looks so comforting and delicious! I'd cozy up with a big bowl of soup, since it's pretty chilly these days.

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    1. Kiran, I hope this helps to warm your belly:)

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  24. Woah this looks SO yummy Erin and I love that we are on the same page. I've been playing around with an old matzoh ball recipe for Passover. The addition of chickpeas and turmeric is just brilliant, going to order her book! Your photos and style continues to amaze me. Hope you're having a blast in the South. xoa

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    1. Thanks lovely lady! Isn't it a cool recipe? So darned simple, but packed with flavor. And I think you'd love Louisa's book. I'm itching to make her beet burgers!
      xoxo
      E

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  25. I never had anything like this, but am really curious about this soup. Would be a perfect meal for these last few winter weeks. Hope you're doing well, Erin! xoxo

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    1. Denise, so nice to hear from you! I think you'd really enjoy the recipe - the flavors are so fresh yet subtly mysterious at the same time. I hope all is well with you! xoxoxo

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  26. Very nice soup, clear and beautiful. I think I would like to add an apple to it, it always gives clear soup really nice sweetness. :)

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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