Miso Matzo Ball Soup


Let me start by saying I broke some rules making this dish (and not just the most obvious one). For one, I made a cheater's version of vegetarian dashi. For an authentic dashi recipe you can check out this or this. There are also some instant dashi mixes on the market. You can also find instant miso soup at many stores, and if that's your thing go for it. If you are still up for making miso soup from scratch I found this post helpful.

Aside from the lack of the dashi's authenticity, this soup is also a little disorienting from the matzo ball perspective. I'm highly accustomed to matzo balls floating around in chicken broth (or vegetarian chicken-tasting broth). When I took the first taste of this soup I wondered where all the familiar flavors had gone. 

Then I took a second bite. I quickly forgot about tradition and authenticity. This is the merger of two comfort foods from two different culinary cultures. The sweet umami salty miso broth is happy to host hearty matzo balls (in lieu of soft tofu or shellfish). The scallions add a refreshing bit of green and bite. I think you could even try out a little fresh dill (gasp!) in this soup. 

One note about matzo balls: I'm not a fan of leaden sinkers, but I do like some chew to my matzo balls. You can make your matzo balls however your bubbe made them. If you really don't want to make matzo balls from scratch you can buy matzo ball mixes at the store. 

There's a lot of room for controversy in this recipe. When you're making super traditional dishes everyone has a strong opinion about what is right and wrong. It's a little daring, but I was happy to throw out the rules and combine two things that aren't frequently brought together.

This recipe could happen in moments if you take all the cheats you want... or this recipe could take just a little longer and you could make every element authentically and from scratch. However you choose to make it, this merger is a happy one.

Miso Matzo Ball Soup
Serves 4 
Makes 10-12 matzo balls

for the matzo balls
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil (or schmaltz)
½ cup matzo meal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
pepper to taste

for the miso soup
1 4-5 inch piece kombu, rinsed (can substitute with an extra sheet of nori)
1 sheet nori
5 cups water
4 tablespoons white miso
2 large scallions, sliced thin

for the matzo balls
In a bowl, beat the eggs and olive oil together. To the egg mixture, add the matzo meal, baking powder, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined. Your mixture should be sticky and wet. Let the matzo ball dough chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the matzo ball dough has chilled and the water is boiling, form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Lower the heat to a simmer, and then carefully drop the balls into the simmering water. They will float and begin to expand. 


Place a lid on the pot, and simmer the matzo balls for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn off the heat, and serve the matzo balls, or let them cool in the liquid, and store them in the fridge until ready to use. Matzo balls can be made 1-2 days ahead of when you intend to serve them. While the matzo balls are cooking, make the soup.


for the soup
In a medium pot, add the kombu, nori and water. On medium heat, slowly bring the liquid to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until the seaweed has imparted flavor to the liquid, and the nori is falling apart. Before the water has come up to a simmer, when it is warm and about 100°F, take a few tablespoons of the liquid and combine it in a small bowl with the miso. Stir until smooth and reserve.


After the broth has simmered for 10 minutes, remove the kombu and nori from the pot. The nori may fall apart a little and that's ok; the seaweed sediment adds flavor. On low heat, whisk the reserved miso mixture into the pot. Add the onions to the pot. Simmer the soup for another 2-3 minutes, but be careful not to boil the miso.

to assemble the dish
Ladle the miso soup into bowls. Serve 2-3 matzo balls per bowl.