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Vegetarian Matzah Ball Gumbo File

Vegetarian Matzah Ball Gumbo File Related:   kid-friendly, North America, pareve, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, soups, vegetables & legumes, vegetarian

Prep time: 1–1½ hours

Cook time: 2½–3 hours

Yield: 8–10 servings

This recipe combines a rich, hearty gumbo broth with traditional matzah balls. Many Ashkenazi Jews don’t eat kitniyot (rice, corn, beans, legumes, seeds) on Passover—if you are one of them, simply omit the red beans. Recipe inspired by Marcie Cohen Ferris and My Jewish Learning.


  • Matzah Balls
  • 4 jumbo eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vegetable bouillon soup mix
  • ¾ cup matzah meal
  • Gumbo
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 6 cups cut okra, fresh or frozen
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed (omit if you don’t eat kitniyot on Passover)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want more heat)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Green onion sliced on a bias for garnish


  • Matzah Balls: Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Beat the egg yolks, salt, parsley, onion, oil, pepper and vegetable bouillon until creamy. Fold the egg whites into the egg mixture. Gradually fold in the matzah meal. Cover and chill for 1½ hours.
  • Gumbo: Bring 6 cups vegetable broth to a boil and set aside on low heat.
  • In a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add onion, bell peppers, celery and garlic; stir and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute until the tomato paste has darkened in color. Set vegetables aside in a bowl. Add the remaining 1/3 cup canola oil to the same pot over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Next, make a roux by whisking in potato starch, stirring constantly until it darkens and has a nutty scent, approximately 15 minutes. You want it to develop a caramel or almost chocolate brown without burning it. Reduce the heat as necessary.
  • Maintaining the reduced heat, add 1 cup of vegetable broth. The roux will sizzle a bit, so be careful. Whisk the mixture until smooth.
  • Add cooked vegetables that set aside and tomatoes. Give the mixture a stir until combined. Next, add an additional cup of vegetable broth. Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, okra, red beans (if using), salt, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper, black pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, bay leaves and the remaining 4 cups of broth.
  • Cover and continue to simmer for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. (At this point you can let the gumbo cool completely and refrigerate. The flavors will develop overnight. Reheat when ready to serve.)
  • To cook matzah balls: Bring a very large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. With well-oiled hands, make small balls about ¾-inch in diameter. Drop them into the boiling water. Cover the pot tightly and boil for about 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t peek!
  • To serve: Place 1 or 2 matzah balls in a bowl and spoon the gumbo around the matzah balls. Garnish with sliced green onions.

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