Winter Warmers: Matzah Ball Soup

January has arrived, bringing crisp air and bare trees and unrelenting, bone-chilling cold. Every time I leave the house, the call of centuries of (overly) concerned Jewish mothers reverberates through my head: Take your coat!

January’s icy chill invariably strikes even the strongest of us down with coughs, colds and the dreaded flu. When germs and sickness come knocking at the door, the Jewish mother has one fix-all solution in her arsenal: the Jewish penicillin, chicken soup!

This vegetarian would not presume to give the world another chicken soup recipe – even if I had one to share, I’m absolutely certain that no-one makes it quite as well as your mom or grandma. What I will do, however, is offer you a recipe for chicken soup’s ultimate best friend, matzah balls.

Disclaimer: these are not light, fluffy little kneidelach that dissolve to nothingness the moment they get to your mouth. They are delicious sink-your-teeth-in matzah balls and offer a chunky and wonderful contrast to the flavorsome broth you serve them in.

7 or 8 sheets matzah
1 small onion, diced
A little vegetable oil
3 eggs
3 tablespoons matzah meal
Salt and pepper to taste
A large pot (with a lid) of either boiling salted water or chicken/vegetable broth

1) Fry the diced onion in the vegetable oil over a low heat until soft but not colored.
2) Place a colander over a large bowl. Break the matzahs up into small pieces, then rinse well and leave to soak and soften for a few minutes.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine the soaked matzah with the cooked onion, eggs, matzah meal and combine to form a thick mixture. Season to taste.
4) To shape the balls, dampen your hands under a tap dripping cold water. Take small scoops of the matzah mixture and roll into balls approximately 3cm in diameter, keeping your hands damp to avoid sticking. Place rolled balls on a plate.
5) To cook, gently add matzah balls to your boiling pan, being careful not to overcrowd it (you may ned to do this in batches). Cover with the lid and walk away – no peeking! Leaving them covered helps them steam rather than boil, resulting in a better texture and flavour.

Enjoy and stay healthy and warm this winter!