Slow-Cooked Sentences

Soup, never simple

Rachael Conlin Levy

How does a Catholic girl get mistaken for being Jewish? Marry into a name.

In fourteen years, I’ve received a cold call from a rabbi, begged ignorance of Yiddish, been told I should move to the Bronx where there are lots of nice, young Jewish families, asked which synagogue I attended during a craigslist purchase, and now the latest from the Sunday school coordinator:

“You don’t have to answer this question, but we’ve been wondering: With your names — Rachael, Chaja, Sam, Max — how did you end up here?”

A conundrum, to be sure.

While my husband would have us all remain happily ignorant of his heritage, it’s not easy in a world where rabbis and real-estate agents want to pin stars on the rest of us. So rather than fight the stereotype and protest the label, I’ve decided to learn about the Jew in us.

With that introduction comes this week’s Passover soup, a steaming bowl of chicken broth, thin slices of carrot, snips of dill and matzo balls. (And what’s for dinner tonight? Fish, of course. After all, it is Good Friday. Click here for some incredible pictures of Holy Week.)

In the bowl:

Matzo Ball Soup

On the side:

Grilled sourdough with extra-sharp cheddar and fontina

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Balls
Makes 8 to 12 matzo balls

1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chicken stock or seltzer (recommended by Smitten Kitchen)

For soup
2 to 3 quarts chicken stock (I used Swanson’s)
1 carrot, thinly sliced
sprigs of dill

Mix matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. With wet hands, shape matzo into 1-inch balls and drop into simmering water. Cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the matzo balls are cooked, heat the chicken stock and carrot. (If you’ve made the matzo balls ahead of time, add them to the stock and bring the whole thing to a simmer.) Ladle soup and a couple matzo balls into a bowl, garnish with dill.

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