Passover is a time to reflect on the journey of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in their own land. It’s a time to celebrate the renewal of spring and the promise of new beginnings. Also known as the Spring Festival and the Festival of Freedom, this hearty dish harkens back to the roots of Jews overcoming hardships, with the matzo meal representing the unleavened bread the Jews ate while escaping slavery in Egypt; its vegetables signaling the celebration, promise, and hope of Spring; and the modern-day warmth of gathering with friends and family to celebrate freedom.
This comforting and nourishing dish has been a staple of Jewish cuisine for generations, and this plant-based version is no exception. With a delicious combination of flavors and textures, it’s the perfect way to pay tribute to the rich history and cultural significance of Passover while still indulging in a modern and healthy twist on a beloved classic.
It’s important to keep in mind that Kashrut is a set of dietary laws that describe the foods, preparations, and other important details that Jews follow in accordance with Halakha, the rules derived from the Torah. Food that may be consumed under these rules is considered Kosher, or fit for consumption. Your loved ones might say they “keep kosher” or “observe kosher practices”.
Additionally, during Passover, some Jewish communities follow the dietary law that forbids the consumption of leavened foods, known as chametz, which includes grain-based foods or those with leavening agents, like yeast. Therefore, while some products are considered kosher year-round, they are nevertheless considered unacceptable for Passover. The best way to know the correct modifications to make in order to follow your family and friends’ religious dietary preferences is simply to ask! So gather your loved ones, break out the vegan wine during the Seder, and enjoy a bowl of vegan matzo ball soup that will warm both your belly and your heart.
Over the years I’ve experimented with a lot of vegan matzo ball recipes, often with little luck. Matzo balls are very delicate and are traditionally held together with eggs, so it can be challenging to find plant-based ingredients (and egg replacers) that bind the matzo meal together effectively.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve made perfect-looking matzo balls that end up completely disintegrating in the soup. But after much trial-and-error, I’ve finally found my dream recipe that really works!
The star ingredient this recipes uses in place of eggs? Silken tofu!
This is a recipe modified from the matzo ball soup recipe in Vegan: The Cookbook. It’s foolproof, and perfect for Passover, for Hanukkah, for sick days, on chilly days, and heck, even in the heart of summer. It’s really easy to make and a true crowd-pleaser. So load up your pantry with matzo meal and get cooking!
When it comes to making a delicious and satisfying plant-based, eggless matzo ball soup, the ingredients you choose can make all the difference. From the matzo meal that gives the matzo balls their signature texture to the silken tofu that binds them together, each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a dish that is both comforting and nourishing.
In this section, we will dive into some of the key ingredients that make this soup so special, exploring their significance in Jewish Passover tradition, their unique flavors and textures, and how they come together to create a truly memorable meal. The best part? Kosher versions are available for every ingredient listed below, as well!
This humble ingredient is the star of the show when it comes to matzo ball soup. Made from ground-up matzo crackers, it adds that signature texture and flavor to the soup that we all know and love. Not only is it essential for the recipe, but it also holds special significance during the Jewish holiday of Passover, when matzo (unleavened bread) is eaten to commemorate the Israelites’ hasty departure from Egypt.
Matzo meal is vegan, and most matzo ball mixes are too! This recipe calls for matzo meal, which you can find at most grocery stores or online. Matzo ball mixes already contain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and they’re also usually pre-mixed with spices like celery seed, garlic, onion, and pepper. Not all matzo is certified kosher, so be sure to read the package and labeling to be certain.
Who knew that tofu could be the secret ingredient to delicious matzo balls? This plant-based protein powerhouse not only adds a delicate creaminess to the matzo balls, but also helps bind the ingredients together for that perfect texture.
While silken tofu is a great alternative to eggs, not all Jews consider it to be “Kosher for Passover”. Some Jews refrain from eating kitniyot foods on Passover, which are derived from legumes (like soy-based tofu), while others will consume such foods if they are certified kosher. Some organic tofu brands have received kosher certification from the Kosher Supervision of America, which is acceptable to some Jews to eat on Passover. If you’re hosting a vegan Passover seder, please be sensitive and check with your guests to see if they are comfortable eating tofu!
For those new to plant-based cooking, nutritional yeast may seem like a strange ingredient to include in soup. But trust us; it’s worth it! This flaky, golden powder adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to the matzo balls, giving them that umami kick that we all crave.
But…is Nutritional Yeast Kosher for Passover? Again, that depends on the specific dietary guidelines and customs followed by each Jewish individual or community. If you don’t consider nutritional yeast Kosher for Passover, you can simply leave it out!
Store-bought vegetable broth is a fantastic option when it comes to making a delicious and easy plant-based matzo ball soup. But you can also opt use vegan bouillon and water instead! Bouillon is essentially a concentrated soup base made from dehydrated vegetables, herbs, and spices. It’s a quick and easy way to add flavor to your soup; simply dissolve it in hot water and use it in place of vegetable broth. Better Than Bouillon makes several varieties of vegan bouillon that we love!
These tiny seeds may be small, but they pack a big punch in this soup. The earthy, slightly bitter flavor of celery seeds complements the other ingredients in the soup perfectly, adding a depth of flavor that takes the dish to the next level. And did you know that celery has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries? So not only is this soup delicious, but it’s also good for you!
This versatile herb adds a bright pop of green to the soup, as well as a subtle, fresh flavor that balances out the richness of the broth. In Jewish tradition, parsley is often used as a symbol of spring and rebirth, making it a fitting addition to the Passover seder plate. But in this soup, it’s just a delicious and nutritious ingredient that takes the dish to the next level. While many dried herbs are kosher, if you’re preparing foods that must be certified “Kosher for Passover”, be cautious of seasonings (blended spices) and additives that may render the spices unsuitable for Passover.
Making vegan matzo balls may seem daunting, but fear not! With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be shaping perfect balls in no time.
Silken tofu is a fantastic egg substitute in matzo ball soup, providing the same creamy texture and binding properties as eggs without any animal products. With silken tofu as a vegan alternative, you can enjoy delicious and fluffy matzo balls without sacrificing taste or texture.
To make vegan matzo balls using silken tofu, simply blend the tofu with olive oil in a food processor until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Then, add the matzo meal and other dry ingredients, mixing until a dough forms. The dough should be thick, and a bit crumbly, but you should be able to press it together into balls that don’t fall apart. If you followed the recipe precisely, the dough should come out perfectly. But if it’s too wet, add a bit more matzo meal.
Once the dough is ready, let it rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or up to two days, before shaping into balls and cooking in the soup.
Whether you’re getting ready to celebrate a vegan Passover, vegan Hanukkah, or just want to whip up some delicious traditional Jewish vegan recipes, we’ve got you. Here are a few resources and recipes that can help!
Will you be celebrating a vegan Passover? Or a plant-powered Hanukkah? Or do you just have a hankering for nostalgic matzo ball soup made without eggs? This vegan matzo ball soup is so good it’s worth enjoying all year round!
This vegan matzo ball soup recipe was adapted and published with permission from Phaidon Press and the author and chef Jean-Christian Jury. All rights reserved.