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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie, .

Hi Aunt Nettie,

I've only been a vegan for a few months so cooking this way is still kind of new. My family is having a Passover Seder, and my mom asked me to make the soup and matzoh balls. I would like to make a vegetable soup instead of chicken soup and could use a tasty recipe for a vegetable soup that looks more like chicken soup. Is that possible?

Also, how can I make matzoh balls without the eggs? I sure look forward to your answer.



Well Rachel, darlin',

Don't you fret none. Yer family will be clammerin' fer extree helpin's with this deelicious soup recipe that has a purty traditional vegetable stock. The matzoh balls kin be made in a snap with a little tofu to hold 'em together. Now, regular matzoh balls is really not too tasty, so I like to add some onion powder to spruce 'em up a tad.

Well, child, I sure hope yer holiday goes as pleasin' as this soup goes down.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie


8 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 C. (720 ml) boiling water

1 parsnip, coarsely chopped
5 medium carrots, coarsely sliced
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. (60 ml) water

10 C. (2.5 liters) water
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 bunches green onions, whole, trimmed
1 potato, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
1 t. salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. marjoram

  1. Put shiitake mushrooms into a medium bowl and pour boiling water over them. Soak mushrooms 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put parsnip, carrots, onions, celery, olive oil, and 1/4 C. (60 ml) water into a large stockpot. Sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add 10 cups (2.5 liters) of water, ginger, garlic, green onions, potato, salt, and herbs.
  4. Snip off and discard stems from shiitake mushrooms, and slice mushrooms thinly. Add to stockpot along with strained soak water.
  5. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat down to medium, and simmer about 45 to 50 minutes. Strain vegetables, pressing on them to extract all the liquid.
  6. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and onion powder if desired . Makes about 10 1/2 cups (2.5 liters).


Creating vegan matzoh balls for Passover poses quite a culinary challenge. The traditional ingredient that binds the mixture together is eggs. Vegans usually rely on egg replacer that works perfectly for most instances. However, although egg replacer is kosher, it is not kosher for Passover.

The logical alternative was to bind the mixture with tofu, a very untraditional ingredient in Passover cooking. Tofu is an ideal binder in many recipes, but it was not able to live up to its reputation when the matzoh balls were boiled. The only solution was to bake them. Voila! Vegan Matzoh Balls. Many Rabbis accept the use of legumes for Passover when they are altered from their original form, such as when they are mashed.

1/2 C. (120 ml) matzoh meal
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1/2 t. onion powder

2 T. vegetable oil
6 T. water

1/3 C. (80 ml) well mashed firm tofu

  1. In a medium bowl combine matzoh meal, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Stir dry ingredients to distribute evenly.
  2. Add vegetable oil and water and mix well.
  3. Add mashed tofu and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F. (Gas Mark 6).
  4. Form into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls and place them on a well-oiled baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil, dull side up. Bake at 400 F. (Gas Mark 6) for 30 minutes. Cool, and refrigerate.
  5. Next day, heat the soup, and add the matzoh balls to each soup bowl just before serving. Makes about 14 matzoh balls.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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