Fish Soup with Matzo Balls and Aioli | Excerpted from The Covenant Kitchen by Jeff and Jodie Morgan
We love fish soup. One long-ago Passover, we suddenly wondered, “Why don’t we make matzo ball soup with fish stock instead of chicken stock?” This saffron-colored variation on a traditional theme has now become our standard.
You’ll probably want to double the ingredients for Passover (and remember to use the Passover recipe for the aioli, with lemon juice instead of mustard), but you don’t need to wait for the holiday to enjoy this lovely dish. It’s not hard to make and will provide lots of pleasure for you and your dining companions at any time of the year. (You can also enjoy it without the matzo balls.)
The list of ingredients may seem long, but most of them are simply thrown in the pot, boiled, and then strained. You will also need to purchase a 3-to 4-pound ocean fish. (Remember that kosher fish must have fins and scales.) If you are using the fish head, don’t bother removing the gills, as some cookbooks traditionally advise. Contrary to popular belief, we haven’t found they add any bitterness.
Both the matzo balls and soup are best made a day in advance—or at least the morning before you serve them. First make the matzo balls. They need to be chilled for about 3 hours prior to cooking or the mix will not harden enough to form balls. Make the fish soup when the matzo balls are chilling in the refrigerator. For ease of presentation, we have kept the recipe for the soup and the matzo balls separate.
Aioli, or garlic mayonnaise, adds richness. It is added to the broth when serving. Diners can just mix it into the liquid themselves. No more than 5 or 10 minutes are required to whip up an aioli from scratch. Make it in advance and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
From a wine-drinking perspective, the French would most likely enjoy this soup with a glass of dry rosé. (We have enjoyed countless fish soups in southern France paired with crisp, chilled local rosés. It’s a tradition.) Other fine options would include any racy, dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, or Chardonnay.
Soup | Serves 6 as a first course
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
One 3-to 4-pound saltwater fish (with or without head), such as cod, flounder, salmon, or halibut, scaled and gutted
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 to 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 large head garlic, halved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2.5 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can (28 ounces) whole Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon saffron threads
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1½ cups Aioli, for serving
Freshly ground pepper
Make the matzo balls (see below) and refrigerate while you make the soup.
To make the soup, in a large saucepan or a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the fish (cut in pieces, if necessary, to fit into the pot) and cook, turning frequently, until the flesh begins to fall off the bones, about 10 minutes.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, potato, and salt. Add enough water to cover the contents. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, covered, until the potato is tender, about 45 minutes.
Let the soup cool for about 15 minutes. Working in batches if necessary, in a blender or food processor, coarsely pulse the fish soup. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve or colander into a large bowl or pot, forcing the liquid through by pressing on the solids with the back of a large spoon or—even better—the bottom of a (pareve) coffee mug. Discard all the solids. Strain the soup one more time through a fine-mesh sieve into a large pot to remove as many remaining solids as possible.
To serve, add the cooked matzo balls to the soup that is now in a large pot and reheat over medium-high heat. When the soup starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and continue to heat until the matzo balls are hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Ladle the soup with one or two matzo balls per serving into individual soup bowls. You or your dinner guests can add a dollop or two of aioli to the broth in each bowl. Season with pepper to taste.
Matzo Balls | makes 10 to 15 matzo balls
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
1 cup matzo meal
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, olive oil, water, matzo meal, garlic, cilantro, and salt. Add a few grinds of pepper. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, gently mix to incorporate all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
When the matzo mix is firm to the touch, remove it from the refrigerator and shape it into 10 to 15 balls the size of Ping-Pong balls. Rinse your hands with cold water now and then to prevent sticking. Lay the matzo balls out on a flat surface coated with wax paper.
Fill a large skillet halfway with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a large spoon to gently lay the matzo balls in a single layer into the water. They should not be stacked on top of each other. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the matzo balls have expanded and are firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Use immediately or let cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
(Copyright 2015 by Jeff Morgan and Jodie Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.)
BISTIL | Potato Patties Stuffed with Spiced Minced Meat | Excerpted from Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur
This dish of golden mashed potato patties stuffed with aromatics tastes even better than it sounds. It is common among Jewish Libyan families to serve bistil at the Seder table. Be warned: Bistil taste and smell so good when coming out of the pan that there is a risk they will be gone before the guests arrive.
Makes 20 bistil; serves 8 to 10
For the filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound (1/2 kg) beef shoulder or brisket in one piece
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the shell
2.5 pounds (about 1 kg) russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ras el hanout or baharat spice mix
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or potato starch for Passover)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Prepare the filling: Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the salt, black pepper, allspice, bay leaves, and nutmeg and cook for a few more minutes.
2. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and onion from the pan to cool.
3. Grind the seasoned meat and onion in a meat grinder or finely chop with a large sharp knife. Set aside.
4. Prepare the shell: Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in plenty of salted water. Cook until fork tender (about 30 minutes after the water comes to a boil). Drain and cool.
5. Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl. Mash with a potato masher or a fork; do not use a food processor. Add the white pepper, turmeric, egg yolks, salt, and ras el hanout and mix until just blended—be careful, because overmixing will hurt the texture.
6. Shape, fill, and fry: Wet your hands or rub them with oil and form the potato mixture into balls 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, snuggling them in the palm of your hand. Flatten them slightly. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each patty and pinch over so the filling is completely covered with mashed potatoes and you have formed an oblong patty.
7. Prepare two plates: one with the flour and one with the beaten eggs. Dip the patties in the flour, then in the beaten eggs.
8. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wide pan (the oil should come halfway up the sides of the patties). Working in batches, fry the patties for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
9. Serve immediately or keep in a 300°F (150°C) oven until ready to serve. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Variation: Instead of using the spice mix (baharat or ras el hanout), use a dash each of black pepper, allspice, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
(Copyright 2014 by Al Hashulchan Gastronomic Media. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.)
Excepted from The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando, Translated by Eve Jochnowitz.
Press ½ cups farmer cheese through a sieve. Add 3 eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, ½ cup melted butter, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and a little cinnamon, and stir until creamy. Beat 3 egg whites into a meringue, and gently fold in 3 yolks, some salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Add to cheese mixture. Meanwhile, soak 4 matzos in water for 5 minutes. Grease a cake pan with butter, and sprinkle with matzoh meal. Line with half of the matzos. Pour in the cheese batter, add ½ cup melted butter, and top with remaining matzos.
(Translation Copyright 2015 by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. “Fania Lewando” copyright 2015 by Efraim Sicher. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)