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March 20, 2013

A lighter take on soup for seder

(Continued)

However, for the purpose of this column, I wanted to dream up a matzo ball that is lower in fat and calories, but that doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. The schmaltz was the first ingredient to go. Yes, of course, it’s delicious, but it’s also pure saturated fat. Not healthy. So it was back to vegetable oil.

Then I kissed off the whole eggs in favor of egg whites, which are leaner. I tried to make up for the flavor that went missing along with the schmaltz by adding broth to the batter, but the resulting matzo ball was as dense as a lead ball. What to do? I could have lost the broth in favor of seltzer, which would have made the matzo balls much lighter, but I was afraid it would dull the flavor.

Instead, I added some baking powder, which did indeed make them more buoyant. Isn’t baking powder, a leavener, a no-no during Passover, which bans all leavened bread? Not if you use baking powder that’s been certified kosher for Passover. Then I poached the matzo balls for much longer than recommended, which helped to cook them all the way through, and made them less dense.

The soup part of this recipe is thick with spring vegetables — fava beans, asparagus, leeks, mushrooms and peas. If you want to get fancy (and you can find them), use fresh, seasonal morel mushrooms instead of the buttons. Just make sure you wash them well.

Considered as a whole — matzo balls and vegetables — this soup could stand alone as a hearty, one-pot dinner. If it strikes you as too hearty for the first course of a seder, simply add more chicken broth to thin it.

SPRING VEGETABLE SOUP WITH LOW-FAT MATZO BALLS

Start to finish: 2 hours (45 minutes active)

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