This soup is a combination of traditional Jewish matzah ball soup with an infusion of southern flavors and ingredients.
The ball itself is a bit dense, akin to a hush puppy. Also, it’s not cooked in the broth, it’s added at the end, but it soaks in the broth as you plate the dish. This makes them a little moist as they are absorbing potlikker, which is the liquid from cooking collard greens and is very common and beloved in the southern cooking tradition.
It is traditional to soak the cornbread in the potlikker and greens for just a moment before we eat it. It “marries” the textures before eating.
Note: This recipe is completely vegan.
- 2 leeks, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ lb. collard greens, most stems removed & torn
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 ear of corn
- 3 scallions, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup medium ground yellow corn meal
- ¼ cup matzah meal
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¾ cup boiling water
- In a cast-iron pan, add 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add diced leek.
- Sauté leek for 3-4 minutes until soft and brown. Add minced garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove leek and garlic mixture from the pan and set aside.
- Increase heat to medium-high. To the hot pan, add 1 ear of corn and scallions. Turn the vegetables frequently, until the corn is evenly charred (about 5 minutes) on all sides and the scallions are charred but still have their shape, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan. Shuck corn and set aside with scallions.
- In a Dutch oven, add 3 quarts of water, remaining leek, whole jalapeno pepper, and collard greens. Cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, or until collard leaves are just tender.
- In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, matzah meal, leek and garlic mixture, salt, and pepper. Gradually add boiling water and stir until smooth. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- After setting, with wet hands, mold ½ ounce of cornmeal mix into 1-inch balls; should yield about 15-19 balls.
- Heat 1-inch vegetable oil in the cast-iron skillet, over medium heat, just until barely smoking. Place 5 balls (per batch) into hot oil, cooking until lightly browned on all sides. About 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
- Remove collard broth from heat and strain with cheesecloth, repeatedly if needed, leaving no residue in the broth (optional: Set the collards aside to make pesto for garnish).
- To each bowl, add 1 cup of broth and 1 Tbsp of both corn and scallions. Add cornmeal matzah balls and finish with collard green pesto.