Here in our family, the holidays (Happy New Year, all) offer the chance to consume one of our favorite foods, the sweet soup whose recipe I offer below. When I was learning to cook, I got one piece of advice from my mother about soup and stew making that I’ve used since: For sweetness, add parsnips. I love them so much I wish I could add them to everything—my friendships, my workships, my coffee.
When one of our daughters became a vegetarian at age seventeen, I looked for alternatives to chicken soup. Obviously, the place to start was parsnips. Everyone loves this soup, which we served yet again last night. Included below too is my mother’s matzoh ball recipe, which is unbelievably simple and produces “canedlach,” as my mother always called them, that are lighter than air.
For the rest of our Rosh Hashanah 5768 menu, click to the blog of the great cook, our daughter, Miranda:
Carrot-Parsnip Satin Soup
8-10 carrots, depending on size
8-10 parsnips, also depending on size
4 cloves garlic
1 big vidalia (or red) onion
6 stalks of celery, including leaves
1 large turnip
2-4 sprigs fresh rosemary (2 T dried)
4 leaves fresh sage (2 T dried)
2-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or, you guessed it, 2 T dried)
2 bay leaves, broken in half
Half a bunch of chives (about 12 or so sprigs) (2 T dried)
A healthy amount of fresh parsley (a couple of handsful)
Optional (but I always include)
6-8 leaves fresh basil (2 T dried)
2-4 sprigs fresh oregano (2 T dried)
Kosher or other coarse salt and pepper to taste
Cut carrots, parsnips, celery, and turnip into large chunks (1 to 1.5 inch pieces). Crush garlic and chop shallots, leeks, and onions a bit more.
Using the largest frying pan you have (or two, if necessary), saute garlic until golden (but don’t brown it because that makes it bitter) in enough olive oil to cover bottom of the pan. Add shallots, leeks, onion and cook, sprinkle with a goodly amount of salt, and saute until clear and soft.
Add carrots, parsnips, and turnips; cook for ten minutes; add celery and cook for five minutes more. Salt and pepper some more.
Move vegetables to large soup pot; cover with water. Add herbs, salt, and pepper.
Bring to boil, then simmer for hours (at least four). Add more water as necessary, keeping the soup thick. The longer you simmer the soup, the more flavorful it will be.
Allow soup to cool overnight (but if you don’t have time ignore this step).
Strain soup and puree cooked vegetables in a blender until the soup is smooth as satin (thus the name). Recombine pureed veggies with broth. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Hold your horses until people start complimenting your concoction.
Ethel’s Matzoh Balls
6 large eggs plus one egg white
3/4 cup matzoh meal (approximately)
Kosher or other coarse sea salt (at least 2t)
Separate eggs. Stir yolks until smooth (don’t beat). Whip whites until stiff. Gently fold whites into yolks. Very slowly add matzoh meal, stirring in a little at a time until the mixture is consistency of cooked oatmeal. Be careful not to make the mixture too stiff or your matzoh balls will be too heavy. Don’t worry if you think it’s a bit soupy at this point. It will congeal when you refrigerate it. Add salt.
Cover and put in fridge for at least 30 mins; longer is better.
Bring soup or vegetable broth or salted water to a boil. Using a spoon, scoop out small amount of cold matzoh ball mixture, roll very slightly, then drop into boiling water, one by one. Be gentle. Boil for at least 40 minutes.
Reheat soup (if you didn’t cook the matzoh balls in it). Serve at least two matzoh balls in each bowl of soup.
Say a small prayer of thanks to my mother.