sunrise in Indiana

A lot of people say autumn weather pushes them towards the kitchen, towards the warmth of the stove as the sky darkens and the air chills, towards soups and stews and pies filled with apples. One of you even said here recently that this time of year means that the family comes inside together, to be wrapped up and warm, sipping hot cups of tea (I liked that very much).

But can I tell you something? October has had the opposite effect on me. Instead of slowing down to come inside, I’ve gotten busier—busier in a good way, doing fantastic things like celebrating birthdays and touring new neighborhoods and visiting farms and, also, spending an early Sunday morning driving to Indiana a few weekends ago, to meet my beautiful friend Sue, whom I haven’t seen since 2003 (!). Here’s me with her and her perfect 10-month-old daughter that couldn’t be cuter:

photo by jordan

(photo by jordan)

We met at Sophia’s House of Pancakes, where, while she waited, Sue told the owner I was sort of a food critic, which meant we not only got treated very, very well, but also that I took a few pictures of the good food we ate to show you later (it only seemed right).

You know, there were over 200 miles between us, each way, and I watched the sun rise over Indiana farms on my drive down, right around the time I realized Greenwood is an hour ahead of Chicago and so I would be pretty late getting there, but, honestly, it was absolutely worth every minute because Sue is just that kind of friend, and it was so good to sit across a table from her, to hear her voice and listen to her laugh and meet her daughter for the first time.

scrambled eggs and hash browns

pancakes

French toast

So anyway, please don’t think I’m complaining with this next bit because, I promise, I really do know I’ve been especially blessed lately, but thing is, in the midst of all these good gifts of conversation and travel and food-not-made-by-me, I am having the hardest time getting into the kitchen. If it hadn’t been for another of my old college friends, Elizabeth, who lived with me in the bedbug-infested Unit G of our freshman year and recently reconnected with me on Facebook, I don’t know what I would have done.

matzo ball soup

You are going to love this soup. After she made it, Elizabeth actually hand-typed the whole recipe in a Facebook message for me, complete with commentary—and this is amidst chasing that crazy curly-haired little girl of hers—because she loved it so much and wanted me to be able to love it, too. While normally I’d adapt any recipe I post here with my own notes, this one’s too great not to share exactly as is.

So listen, wherever you are, however your October’s going and whether it’s drawing you inside or sending you out, I hope you’ll find a space of hours to stand over the stove with this soup cooking, or if you don’t, I hope you’ll have good friends that come into your life to sit a while, to spend a Saturday, to send Facebook messages filled with food tips, because, it seems to me, these are some of the best things in life.


Elizabeth’s Matzo Ball Soup

adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Spring.

she writes: Joshua and I find that when someone hypes something up: a movie, event, show, whatever, when we go, it’s not so good. So this recipe totally rots. I mean, really, you should invite only people you don’t really care about over for dinner and serve them this slop.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup matzo meal
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 Tablespoons seltzer water or club soda (I just used regular water)
6 cups chicken stock (I added 3 cups water so I could cover the matzo balls, and besides, I was going to let it simmer a little longer)
8 slices fresh ginger, each about 1/4 inch thick
1 leek, including 1 inch of green portion, cut into 1/2 inch dice and carefully rinsed
1 large carrot, sliced

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and vegetable oil. Stir in the matzo meal, parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper. Add 2 tbs seltzer water and stir to form a slightly sticky mixture. If it is too dry, add 1 to 2 additional tbs seltzer water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours (I might have waited an hour–I was hungry!)

Bring a large soup pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Form the matzo mixture into balls 1 inch in diameter. You should have 12 balls total. Drop the balls into the simmering water and cook, uncovered, until they rise to the top and are cooked all the way through, 30 to 40 minutes. To see if they are ready, cut into one; the color and texture should be consistent throughout. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the matzo balls to a baking sheet. Set aside. (I did not do any of this…too many dirty dishes!)
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the chicken stock and ginger and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the leek and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the ginger. I also added one large carrot, sliced.

Add the matzo balls to the simmering stock and reheat for 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, placing 2 matzo balls in each bowl. Garnish with the chives and serve immediately.

Hope it’s tasty. We liked it.

Update: A few days after the original message, Elizabeth wrote to tell me she’d made it FOUR MORE TIMES already and still found it to be her favorite and had I tried it yet? Next time, she’s going to try whole wheat matzo meal, and I think she is amazing.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Hampers

    Autumn is the season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and it certainly is a great. Even i feel the force pushing me to the kitchen. enjoyed your blog very much. Elizabeth’s Matzo Ball Soup Recipe was great.

  2. Amanda

    Now that sounds delicious. Just the ticket for some of these cooler evenings.

    Sue has beautiful, beautiful hair! Wish I could ask her where she gets it cut LOL – I need a new hairstylist. And it is hard to find someone who treats curly hair correctly.

    Shanna, sounds like a perfectly lovely October to me. Our Oct. has been similar – we haven’t gotten to the curling up, quieting down, cozying together part of autumn yet. We are in Florida, after all =) Maybe Nov. will be like that for us.

  3. Maria

    This looks lovely and full of comfort: broth is so restorative.

    I’m one of those people who fall pulls to the kitchen to roast and braise and stir. In Toronto, it’s chilly and rainy and the windows fog up with steam, and I eat from big bowls, with a spoon, because it seems appropriate.

    Right now it’s at my work desk, heater turned high, spoon diving into last night’s nutmeg-spiced butternut squash that I’ve doused in almond butter. It’s right.

  4. sue

    Shanna, I just LOVED visiting with you that EARLY Sunday morning. A good friend is truly one of the best gifts. AND, I wasn’t going to pass on an opportunity to brag on my “full-of-food-knowledge” friend to that restaurant owner… Plus, I’m pregnant and really wanted good food… :)
    Amanda… If you have curly hair, you know my plight! :) After years of searching, I found a lady who seems to “get” curly hair, and I still am not happy with how I fix it 90% of the time! Truly, the grass is always greener on the other side. Thank you for that sweet compliment, though!

  5. mallory elise

    awww how nice :) i agree that autumn brings people into the kitchen…but at the same time i think, hey, what about all the food you ate in summer? and spring? i think it’s people who draw people in to the kitchen, out to the barbecue, onto the picnic blanket and not necessarily weather. though it is nice to cuddle with tea cups, i won’t lie :P the part about far away friends, im just now starting to go through it, my best friends from college are treating me as if i am dying because i am moving to brazil. it’s so hard knowing that you make other people unhappy by making myself happy…hmmmm i think i see a new post! hehehe but what to bake with it….:P

  6. Emily

    I have never had matzo meal…. I feel a new ingredient coming in to my life!
    I sure have missed catching up with your blog whilst I’ve been gone sorting out my hot mess of a life as we moved countries. I like calling in, it slows my rushing mind of all it’s lists, and reminds me to come to the table more often rather than eat on the couch, attempting to multi task.
    Thank you!

  7. Shannalee

    Hampers, And also, of gusts of wind and days of rain, as I’ve been learning this week. I love it all.

    Amanda, I don’t know, your green smoothie and breakfast oatmeal sounded mighty cozy to me! :) Thanks for your sweet words and for the record, your curly hair is beautiful, too!

    Sue, It really was such a nice gift to get to reconnect. Elyse is SUCH a total doll (even with her crazy faces, LOL!) and I can’t wait to see what her little brother or sister looks like!

    Sues, Isn’t she hilarious? Love the way she put that!

    Mallory Elise, LOVE what you said about how it’s people that bring people into the kitchen. Love, love it. And as far as faraway friends, I have so many people who don’t live by me now, and some really do fall out of touch and some make time to communicate and visit… I am learning, I think, that friends come in and out of my life but I am always loved, and when they come back in, even just for a morning, it is so, so good.

    Emily, You’ll find it in the ethnic/Jewish section of the store and usually in more prominent displays at Passover time. Matzo ball soup is one of my all-time favs! And… you’ve moved countries!? I need to catch up with YOU, sounds like. Thanks for making time to stop over here. So nice to hear your thoughts.

    Lorraine, Me, too! So comforting!

  8. Caitlin

    I’ve been trying to get in the kitchen, but some of fall for me is wanting to be out in it. I want to walk through the leaves, climb apple trees, and drink apple cider cold, straight from the press at the local orchard. And yes, it’s also visiting friends, because that’s something that has no season in my opinion :)

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  10. Adrian @ Food Rehab

    Isn’t hilarious how your friends tell the eatery that you’re food critic?! I guess the benefits are that you can take as many shots of the food as you like without the restaurant thinking that you’re a complete nut. LOL

    Those pancakes look divine. Wish we had Sophia’s House of Pancakes here is Australia

  11. Shannalee

    Adrian, I laughed so hard and still do when I think about it! Sue is hilarious. And I’m sorry you don’t have Sophia’s, but – you get to live in Australia! I’d say you’re getting the better end of the stick!

  12. Fran

    Ah yes. Matzoh ball soup. This batch looks great! I keep a supply in the freezer to ward off evil germs and add matzoh balls on occasion and always for the holidays.

    It’s time to replenish my supply — there’s a nice, fat chicken in the fridge waiting to be turned into “Kosher Penicillin.”

    I’ve got a friend who just doesn’t appreciate the soul warming properties of this soup — he calls it “Chicken water.” It’s a shame.

  13. Shannalee

    Fran, You bring up such a good point that this is like a get-well-soon soup. It’s like chicken noodle but so much better. Love that! As for your friend who doesn’t like it – I’m shocked! A shame, indeed.

  14. Elizabeth

    I have to say, I just loved this piece! I even interrupted my husband’s day at work to tell him about it. And, Shanna, I’m still working on my OH-my-goodness-you-make-my-heart-glad-I-know-you gift. Keep on cooking!

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