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Chicken Soup and Gluten-Free Matzoh Balls

| 11/13/2012 4:44:25 PM

Matzoh Ball Soup is the quintessential comfort food of a people who have frequently been in dire need of comfort. I grew up eating my mother’s version, whose production required a whole stewing chicken, a pressure cooker, and about an hour of cooking time. My version is a bit different, not only because my delicate system does not like gluten, but also because having grown up in the shadow of my mother’sChicken Soup pressure-cooker accidents, I have yet to muster the nerve to acquire a pressure cooker of my own. I have already seen the rice on the ceiling, and it ain’t pretty — also the exploded hardboiled eggs, but that’s another story.

Matzoh ball soup is traditionally made with, surprisingly enough, crumbs made from matzoh, the unleavened bread made for Passover. Unaccompanied gentiles encountering a piece of matzoh for the first time would probably call it a very big cracker, and upon tasting it would be shocked by its bland, cardboardy, white-flour flavorlessness, which is relieved only by scattered burned spots. The only way to make matzoh go down and stay down is to smother it with butter (or with horseradish, Passover’s bitter herb). Almost no one ever eats matzoh voluntarily other than during Passover. Matzoh ball soup, however, is an entirely different animal; almost everyone who has ever tried it loves it.

Matzoh ball soup is Walt’s favorite, and he very emphatically did not grow up eating it in Main Line Philadelphia. So it was a sad day in the Sandbeck household when I suddenly realized that my recently discovered gluten allergy meant that I could no longer eat matzoh balls. After several years of deprivation, I decided to attempt to a gluten-free matzoh ball substitute. I thought hard about it, and asked a few questions — some of you readers may know the tune:

Questioner: What makes matzoh balls different from all other dumplings?

Chorus: They are not sticky.

Questioner: Why aren’t matzoh balls sticky?

Chorus: They are made from matzoh, which has already been baked.

Questioner: What makes other types of dumplings sticky?

Chorus: The gluten in the unbaked flour makes other dumplings sticky.

Questioner: What gives matzoh balls their extra flavor?

Chorus: The matzoh, which has already been baked, tastes a little toasted and sometimes a tiny bit burned.

Questioner: How can I make gluten-free dumplings for my soup that taste and feel like matzoh balls?

Chorus: Use gluten-free flour you have in your cupboards, and try toasting some oatmeal for texture and flavor.

I’ve made a few different iterations of Chicken Soup With Gluten-free Matzoh Balls, and this one is far and away the best:


¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup quinoa flour
1 cup steel cut oats
¼ cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp baking soda

Marcus Lucas
12/3/2012 2:49:05 PM

Since I am allergic to oats, what would be a good substitute?

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