Tender, fluffy matzo balls made without grains, eggs or dairy! It’s all possible thanks to chickpeas: both chickpea flour and aquafaba, the egg-like liquid from canned chickpeas. The soup is 100% kosher, too!
I can thank my college cafeteria for my matzo ball soup affection. They offered a great one, rich with fragrant broth, tender vegetables and fluffy, yet also substantial, matzo balls. I had only read about matzo ball soup (from the All of a Kind Family series of books; I loved the food descriptions!), but after one serving, I was hooked.
I have made several versions of matzo ball soup in my own kitchen, following the sage instructions of Joan David, Mark Bittman, and others, but it had been more than a decade since my last batch. But I was prompted to think–and -re-think–matzo ball soup when I received an email request 2 weeks ago, asking if I might have any suggestions for making grain-free, vegan matzo balls.
I didn’t. But now I do!
Introducing my solution: Chickpea Flour Matzo Ball Soup!
The matzo balls, and the soup itself, are:
The matzo balls take some advance planning, but they are simple to mix up, plus they cook in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional matzo balls. For reasons that will be explained below, the balls are kept small, so they are easy to scoop up by the spoonful.
Instead of matzo meal, these matzo balls are made chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is kosher, but choose a brand that is certified (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill) if you are following a kosher diet. I knew that I could make great dumplings from chickpea flour; I have a version in my Chickpea Flour Cookbook. Chickpea flour is used for dumplings of all kinds in the Middle East, and for pasta and gnocchi in Italy; it has a rich, nutty, savory flavor that is positively addictive.
The super-challenge was making chickpea dumplings that are also egg-free. My initial thought was that chickpea flour could serve as both egg (binder) and starch; it works so well in many of my concocted baked goods.
Wrong.The balls looked promising upon entry to the pot of boiling water, but disintegrated (entirely) minutes later. So I tried adding “eggs” made of chia seeds, flax seed meal, and psyllium. No, no and no. I also combined chickpea flour with almond flour, coconut flour, or both. No times multiple sticky balls and pots of dough.
Racking my brain, I remembered one more option: more chickpeas. More precisely, aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas that can be used as an egg replacement.
It worked like a charm!
Here’s how to use it: drain a 15-ounce can of chickpeas. It will yield about 7/8 cup of liquid. Place the liquid in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduce to 1/2 cup.
Next, mix the chickpea flour and baking powder with the aquafaba, a bit of olive oil, and (optional) chopped parsely and dried dill. I did not add any additional salt since the chickpea liquid is salty, but you can adjust to your taste. The dough will be very stiff and sticky. Loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
After the dough has chilled awhile, make the soup. The ingredients are classic and minimal: carrots, celery, onion, olive oil for sautéing, and broth (I used vegetable broth). I like to add a pinch of cloves and pepper, too, but these are optional.
In a large, wide pot, sauté the vegetables in oil for 5 to 6 minutes until softened. If using cloves, add with the pepper in the last 30 seconds of cooking.
Add the broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer while prepping the matzo balls.
Roll about 1 teaspoon of dough into a small ball; they will double in size as they simmer. Do not make them larger; it only takes a few minutes to cook the small balls. Larger balls will disintegrate with a longer cook time. If you like, you can prep these balls in advance, cover, and place back in the refrigerator until it is time to eat the soup.
With traditional matzo ball soup, the matzo balls are simmered separately from the soup in a large pot of water or broth. This is done, in to keep the soup clear (the matzoh balls break down a little bit as they cook; the murky water is left behind in the matzo ball water).
The extra pot/step is not needed with these little darlings, because they only need about 5 minutes to cook! Once the soup is ready (vegetables are tender, soup is flavorful), bring back to a low boil. Add the matzo balls. They will sink at first, but rise to the surface in 30 seconds or so. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 4 to 6 minutes longer, just until the matzo balls appear firm.
That’s it! Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
Enjoy, & Happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating!
- Matzo Balls:
- Drained liquid from a 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 1 and ⅔ cups chickpea flour (certified kosher, if needed)
- 2 and ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1 and ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely leaves
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 large carrots, peel and thinly sliced
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- Optional: ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups (64 oz) kosher vegetable broth
- fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely leaves
- Matzo Balls: Place the drained chickpea liquid in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced to ½ cup. Cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the chickpea flour, baking powder and dill. Add the cooled chickpea liquid, olive oil and parsley, stirring until completley blended (the dough will be very stiff and sticky). Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
- Soup:In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Add pepper and optional cloves; cook and stir 30 seconds longer.
- Stir in broth ; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until carrots are very soft. Season to taste with salt.
- While soup simmers, roll teaspoons of matzo ball dough into balls, placing on a plate or piece of parchment paper.
- Return soup to a low boil and add the matzo balls. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until balls have risen to surface and appear very firm.
- Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle wth parsley. Serve immediately.
Storage: Store the leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When reheating the soup, remove the matzo balls. Add the matzo balls back in when the soup is very hot (heat the balls for about 1 minute in hot soup).