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Matzo Ball Soup: The History and Symbolism of this Passover Essential

Jewish holidays are chock-full of symbolism and Passover, or Pesach, in Hebrew, is no exception. Passover, which begins on the evening of April 5, commemorates the story of Moses leading the enslaved Israelites out of ancient Egypt, and the journey they experienced over 40 years until they reached their homeland of Israel.

This holiday is equipped with a traditional seder, which is a ritual of food, prayer and singing, the telling of ancient stories and wine (usually lots). In this article, we are going to focus on one specific, symbolic part of the Passover holiday: The Matzo.

Matzo ball soup is a traditional Jewish dish made from a savory chicken broth and light and fluffy dumplings made of matzo meal. It is often served during Passover but can be enjoyed all year round. Matzo ball soup is not only comforting and delicious, but it is also easy to prepare. In this article, I will share a simple and delicious recipe for making matzo ball soup in the comfort of your own kitchen.

How Matzo Ball Soup Came to Be

What’s matzo? Matzo (also called matzah or matzoh) is an unleavened bread, more like a giant cracker or crunchy flatbread. Matzo ball soup is more than just a meal-it’s an expression of Jewish culture and heritage. For centuries, it has been a symbol of the Exodus from Egypt, as well as the struggle for freedom and independence.

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When the Jews had to flee Egypt in a hurry, they did not have time to let the bread rise, and therefore, they left their homes with unleavened bread to eat. Traditionally, Jews avoid eating leavened foods made from grains during Passover, known in Hebrew as “chametz.”

Matzo is served at the Passover seder, and essentially replaces other bread-like foods throughout the eight-day holiday.

So how and why did this matzo stuff make it into the coveted matzo ball soup?

Nearly every culture around the world has a dumpling of sorts-the pierogi, the wonton, the gnocchi, the gyoza, the dim sum … the list goes on. Matzo balls are the Jewish dumpling, and so naturally they fit into soup!

Before matzo was crunched into tiny crumbs called and sold as “matzo meal,” European Jews would get the matzo crumbs from the local bakery and mold them into dumplings with egg and water. Now you can find matzo meal at many grocery stores, especially around Passover. They even make a gluten-free version!

Dietitian-Approved Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

Matzo ball soup reminds me a lot of chicken noodle soup, but with matzo balls instead of pasta. It has a very similar taste, so you can imagine this soup screams “comfort food,” and feeds the body with warm, nourishing goodness.

Although matzo ball soup is a traditional Passover food, it can be made year-round and even ordered online and shipped to your home from the famous New York Katz’s Delicatessen (my most memorable cup of matzo ball soup came from here).

Below is a more traditional recipe for matzo ball soup, with a few dietitian-approved tweaks from me:

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Matzo Ball Soup

Adapted from Joan Nathan of “The New York Times”

Yield: About 15 matzo balls


  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup avocado oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, dill or cilantro
  • 1 carrot sliced into thin circles
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more for cooking
  • Black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, stock, matzo meal, nutmeg, ginger and parsley.

Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Gently mix with a whisk or spoon. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

2. When ready to make the soup, heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a large stockpot.

Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook until slightly softened.

Next, fill with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.

3. To shape and cook the matzo balls, using wet hands, take some of the mix and mold it into the size and shape of a Ping-Pong ball.

Gently drop it into the boiling water, repeating until all the mix is used. The balls will grow slightly as they cook.

4. Cover the pan, reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook matzo balls for about 20 to 30 minutes. The balls will float!

If desired, the cooked matzo balls may be placed on a baking sheet and frozen, then transferred to a freezer bag and kept frozen until a few hours before serving; reheat in chicken or vegetable soup or broth. They are best fresh, though!

You can try putting your own creative spin on matzo ball soup with added protein such as shredded chicken, tofu or chickpeas and pack in the vegetables for a very complete meal.

Some have even taken culinary fusion to the next level with this Matzo Ball Soup a la Mexicana.

Matzo balls are a cultural staple of the Jewish community and have been enjoyed for centuries. This dish has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people outside of the Jewish faith experimenting with new recipes. Whether it’s a traditional recipe or a creative fusion of flavors, matzo ball soup is a comforting and nourishing meal that can be enjoyed all year round.

However you choose to enjoy this traditional soup, I hope it brings you health and joy. “Chag Pesach Sameach,” or “Happy Passover.”

Monika Jacobson

After growing up in the Inland Northwest, Monika Jacobson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Washington State University. She moved to the west side and worked as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in a myriad of settings–from luxury health clubs, to coaching athletes with sports nutrition, to home health clinical nutrition and various start-ups in Seattle-focused scientific wellness and genetics. After moving to Spokane with her family, she created Eat Move Thrive-Spokane because she wanted to transform people’s lives by teaching them how to make healthy food taste good. At Eat Move Thrive-Spokane, Monika teaches adult and kid cooking classes (online and in-person) and coaches clients one-on-one with their wellness goals centered on nutrition. She discusses how stress, sleep, hormones, and overall mental health affect the decisions we make about food. 

Read all of Monika’s articles here.

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