Small Batch Matzo Ball Soup

You can’t have Passover really without matzo ball soup.  It’s a rich, hearty soup made with chicken, lots of vegetables, and matzo balls. Matzo balls are dumplings, but made with matzo meal instead of flour.  My mom and great-grandma used to make this in enormous batches. Mom was feeding 20 or so at a time, and my great-grandma about 40-45 people (big family). That, of course is way too much for one person. So small batch matzo ball soup it is! My version makes about 5 or 6 servings.

Now, the usual way to make the soup is to boil the chicken, then add the veggies, bring to a boil, and simmer. However, if you do it that way, the chicken ends up fairly tasteless. So, I lightly cook the chicken first, then add the veggies, and finally the water. Doing it this way allows the chicken and veggies to caramelize a bit and gain added flavor.

The best way to do this, is to make the soup first. That way, if you get fat from the top, you can use that to make the matzo balls the next day. The matzo balls need to be refrigerated to firm up, so start them either in the morning or at night so they have time to chill.

Also, make sure to store the finished soup and matzo balls in different containers. Put them together and the matzo balls will absorb a lot of the liquid (leaving you with very little soup left!)

One more thing, there is (as usual) a big debate over the “proper” texture of matzo balls. Some say that they should be fluffy. Others insist they should be firm. My family comes firmly (ha ha) down on the firm side. They should have body and substance! Just say no to wimpy matzo balls!

More Passover Recipes

homemade small batch matzoHomemade Small Batch Matzo

Store-bought matzo tastes like, well “hemstitched cardboard.” Make it yourself instead and get something with actual good flavor


small batch charoses

Small Batch Charoses

It’s not Pesach without charoses. This mixture of apples, wine, nuts, and cinnamon is meant to remind us of the bricks our ancestors were forced to make while building Pharoah’s cities. Unlike actual mortar, this tastes good!

Cinnamon Sugar Brandy Bananascinnamon sugar bananas

End the festive meal with this easy banana dessert. They’re gently cooked in brandy and then sprinkled with cinnamon.  Ready in minutes.  Brandy is OK (check the label to make sure if you are observant).]

single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipeSingle Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

One serving of rich, decadent chocolate pudding. Cook it less and you get thick, European-style hot chocolate. So, it’s really two recipes in one!


Small Batch Charoses

What is charoses? It’s part of the Passover celebration and is meant to represent the mortar that the Israelites used to build Pharoah’s cities when we were slaves in Egypt. My grandma used to make enormous batches of it, but being unable to eat 5 or 6 apples worth of food, this is a small batch charoses recipe.

If you are not familiar with charoses, the Ashkenazi (Eastern European) version is a mixture of nuts, apples, wine, and sugar.  The Sephardim (Jews from Spain and the Middle East) make it with dates and oranges. Think of it as sort of a chunky applesauce with nuts and wine.

Charoses is traditionally eaten each year as part of the Seder (the Passover service) with matzo. It’s also good as a snack on more matzo during the week.

It’s both vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Charoses is traditionally made with red wine, but if you don’t want wine, you could substitute grape juice instead. I’m sure my grandma used something like Manischewitz concord grape wine or malaga (both heavy and super-sweet). However, I find both undrinkable, so I used old vine zinfandel instead.

More Passover Recipes

homemade small batch matzoHomemade Small Batch Matzo

Eat your charoses with a small batch of homemade matzo. Unlike the stuff from the store, this has actual flavor!


small batch matzo ball soup

Small Batch Matzo Ball Soup

Once you’ve made your matzo, it’s time for the soup. This is rich, flavorful, and really the centerpiece of the Passover meal as far as I’m concerned. And your house will smell wonderful while it’s cooking.

stovetop coq au vin

Stovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

An easy version of a French classic. This is much less effort than the usual, but still special/fancy enough for a special occasion. Use potato starch instead of flour to make in Passover-friendly. If you don’t want to mix meat and dairy, use oil instead of butter.

crispy garlic basil potato bitesCrispy Garlic Basil Potato Bites

Tiny bits of potato kicked up with garlic and basil. Crispy outside and tender inside.  Almost like fries (but a lot less messy).


Cinnamon Sugar Brandy Bananascinnamon sugar bananas

Finish off with these easy-to-make bananas, sprinkled with cinnamon. They take only a few minutes to make and the brandy is OK for Passover.

Homemade Small Batch Matzo

Delicious and matzo are not usually combined in the same sentence. But this homemade small batch matzo is actually tasty. Really!

We eat matzo, and other special foods, as part of the observance of Passover. If you are not familiar, the Passover holiday celebrates the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. The occasion is observed by having a feast, featuring special foods: matzo (signifying the unleavened bread we had to eat because we had to leave in a hurry and couldn’t wait for the bread to rise), charoset (a mixture of nuts and apples with wine that signifies bricks and mortar), horseradish (signifying the bitterness of slavery), lettuce or other greens dipped in saltwater (for tears), and four cups of wine.  We also read the story of the escape (exodus) from a book called the Haggadah. The entire meal and ceremony is called a seder (order).
Back to the matzo. The supermarket stuff is, frankly, awful. My grandma used to call it hemstitched cardboard. Everything you’d normally eat that’s made with flour or leavening (noodles, rolls, pie, etc. has to be made with matzo). Since there’s no leavening it’s all really dense and heavy and hard to digest.
However, some time ago, I discovered I could make my own matzo. I found this recipe and it actually has something that store bought matzo sorely lacks. Namely… taste!
Since this is for one, I halved the recipe. Note that your oven temp may vary, and the matzo cooking time may vary. Keep an eye on it!

More Passover Foods

stovetop coq au vinStovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

An “easy button” version of a French classic. The usual version takes a lot of time and effort. This one doesn’t.

For Passover, swap the flour for potato starch.

Jewish chicken curry chitarneeJewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee

This Sephardic recipe is packed with flavor. It’s spicier than Eastern European food, but not super-hot.  Flavored with onion, garlic, ginger, mild chilis, and cardamom, all of which become warm and mellow as they cook. The wine vinegar is OK for Passover too. And only one pot!

Cinnamon Sugar Brandy Bananascinnamon sugar bananas

Finish off your feast with sweet bananas, lightly dusted with cinnamon. It’s simple, and delicious too.



poached pears with chocolate sauce and ice creamPoached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream

Sure, this looks decadent. It might me. It’s also rich, easy, and delicious. Fancy enough for company or a special feast, but simple enough for a Wednesday.