Garlic Soup with Spinach and Matzo Balls
This soup is rich and flavorful, carrying all the goodness that arrives with one-and-a-half heads of garlic. It's not as pungent as you might think, as the cooking process mellows the garlic's bite; but it still packs one hell of a bark that will frighten away evil spirits (and some germs and parasites*), nosy neighbors with delicate sensibilities, and vampires.
In fact, coincidentally, we watched an old Kolchak, The Night Stalker episode that night called "The Vampire"; the soup was much more entrancing than the show, if I do say so myself.
*If chicken soup is "Jewish penicillin," then this soup should be called "Jewish Cipro™." The only special tool you need is a handblender or countertop blender, to puree the cooked cloves into the soup.
- One and one-half heads (yes, heads) of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, with hard bottoms removed
- 8 cups cold water
- 3 T. butter (or oil)
- 2 jumbo cubes chicken or vegetable bouillon (or 6 small ones)
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
- dash blackpepper
- 3 T. flour (or chick pea flour if available)
- 3 matzos, crushed finely
- 2 eggs, beaten
Meanwhile, prepare a golden-brown roux in a separate nonstick pan, using the flour and remaining butter. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and slightly brown, stirring frequently. Remove roux from heat and allow to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine matzo crumbs with a few teaspoons of the boiling garlic stock. Stir until evenly moistened and crumbly. Mix in the two eggs, and stir until you have a firm but malleable mixture. If it is too stiff to mold into one-inch "balls" with hands (dip your hands first in water, but it will still be messy and sticky. That's part of the fun.) add a teaspoon of cold water at a time until you have the desired consistency. Set aside.
When your garlic stock is done simmering, whisk the cloves into a puree using the handblender (or carefully transferring soup into a standard blender). They should disintegrate easily at this point. Then, while soup simmers in the pot, stir in briskly the cooled roux. The soup should thicken up a bit in minutes, and keep stirring to prevent lumps. Toss in the frizen spinach, and bring to a boil once again.
Then, the matzo balls: using dampened hands and spoon, shape the matzo ball mixture into one-inch balls, dropping one at a time in the soup, working quickly. Gently stir with a wooden spoon after all are in the pot, to prevent sticking, taking care not to break the balls (the above recipe should yield abou 10-12 matzo balls). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve, and enjoy the pleasures of having your very own seat on the "L" - for the entire trip!