Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

January 6, 2012
Irene Saiger


Lentil Soup with Matzoh Balls

On some cold winter days when there was not much to do, my sister would take me downtown to wander around a museum.  I only remember visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History, not The Frick, Guggenheim, or MoMA (maybe she thought I was too young to appreciate those) but the Met was always my favorite and still is.  We would stop and look at whatever interested us, or go watch a Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers movie when they had free screenings.  I think my sister felt responsible for my cultural well-being.

In any case, I loved going, mainly because It felt like a very grown up thing to do.  Even the approach to the Met was exciting, with all those stairs to climb, and then, once you reached the entrance there were crowds of people milling around, taking off their overcoats and shaking off the chill.  The foyer is impressive at any age, but particularly to a young child, and of course you had to get by the solemn guard stationed at the hall leading to the galleries.

My sister was an enthusiastic teacher who at the time was taking an art history course at Hunter College and was eager to share her knowledge.  I credit her for my appreciation of museums and to this day I try to visit the Met when I am in NYC.  I never really thought much about it but earlier this week my younger son called and mentioned that it was really cold day, and to my surprise, my immediate response was to tell him to “go to a museum.”

At the end of the day we would take the train back to The Bronx and of course my mother would have dinner ready and waiting.  Hot soup and warm memories are perfect for cold days.  Thanks Anita!

Lentil Soup with Matzoh Balls

1/ 3 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped,

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 carrots, diced

3 cloves of minced garlic

1 pound brown lentils

8 cups chicken broth

1 Tb cumin

1 Tb Paprika

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 bag baby spinach leaves

In a large pot, sauté  chopped onion in olive oil for a few minutes, or  till translucent.  Add celery, carrots, garlic and cumin and sauté for several more minutes.  Add lentils, chicken broth, paprika, salt and pepper.  Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about one hour. Add spinach and serve.  Prepare Matzoh Balls and add one to each serving.  Serves 6-8

Fluffy Matzoh Balls

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup Matzoh Meal

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Process all the ingredients in a Cuisinart for about 10 seconds. Place mixture in fridge for about an hour.  Shape into balls and add to a large pot of salted, boiling water.  Cover and cook matzoh balls for about 45 minutes.

Makes 12 matzoh balls.



14 thoughts on “Lentil Soup with Matzoh Balls

  1. I made your delicious lentil soup tonight. I didn’t make the matzah balls–just needed to cut some calories. I added a drop of fresh-squeezed meyer lemon juice to the soup just because. . . The flavor is wonderful! Thanks for the recipe and especially for sharing your memory of going to museums in Manhattan.

  2. Hi, Irene.

    I had tears in my eyes when I read your blog. I was so scared that you would write something about us not having the same mothers only to read the wonderful things you wrote. Thank YOU very much.

    That was when I had reached the age of 13 or 14 and mommy actually let us stay home by ourselves while she and daddy went off to New Jersey to see Uncle Chiel and Tante Marisha. That is when our trips to Manhattan started. We went to the Village to the galleries and to art shows. We went to the Guggenheim as well although you may not remember. We went to the Metropolitan more often because there was so much more to see. I wish we had gone to hear Leonard Bernstein or to see the ballet. Not enough money or too young to understand that some day we would not be able to see Leonard Bernstein.

    The good news is that we still have lots of time to see and do lots of great things.

    As for the soup, it sounds delicious. I made some soup this Friday as well because it has been cold and Jeffrey and I both craved some soup. Just a vegetable soup but it was really good as hard as that is to believe. I am definitely not the cook in the Graf family!!

    • I am SO glad you liked the story. I don’t remember the Guggenheim but there are lots of things I don’t remember any more. G-d willing, we will do many, many more things in the near future, speaking of which, what’s happening with Nashville???

      I love you!


  3. hi, we all enjoy this soup in your home, and i think u even added chopped spinash, and it was delicious

  4. Hi, Irene…..hope you and your family had a lovely Chanukah and we wish all of you a very happy and healthy New Year!!! The lentil matzah ball soup recipe sounds and looks wonderful and I hope to be making it very soon. Thank you so much! We think of you often and continue to enjoy your stories and recipes.
    Love and hugs….Dorothye and Melvyn

    • Happy New Year Dorothye,

      We had a wonderful Channukah, with all of the kids here and Norm’s 60 birthday party, we had many things to celebrate. I always have a smile when I see your name and so appreciate your staying in touch. Love to you and your hubby!


      Make sure you let me know how it comes out.

  5. this is interesting with matzah balls in lentil soup and not just chicken soup. Hey shows good balls are always wanted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. How so very lucky you are to have had Anita as a teacher and how lucky for her to have had you as a student. The bond you two have is so very wonderful. How your parents (may they rest in peace) must have been so proud of the two of you. I too was brought up on delicious soup. This week, I made a lentil soup, a bit different then yours but SO delicious. It was a super hit.
    2-3 T olive or sunflower oil
    l large onion finely chopped
    2-3 large garlic cloves chopped
    1 fresh red chili-seeded and chopped-I did not have this so substituted 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
    1-2 tsp cumin seeds
    2 tsp. coriendar seeds ( i used powder did not have the seeds)
    1 carrot finely chopped
    1 tsp fenugreek
    1 tsp sugar
    1 Tbls tomato paste
    1 cup split red lentils
    7 1/2 cups (3 pints) chicken stock
    salt and ground pepper

    TO SERVE: 1 small red onion finely chopped, 1 bunch flat leaf parsley 4-6 Lemon wedges. Did not do this step-I forgot

    1) heat oil and stir in onion,garlic,chili cumin and coriander seeds. When onion has color add the carrot and cook 2-3 min. Add the fenugreek,sugar and tomato paste and stir in the washed lentils

    2) Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and partially cover the pan and simmer for 30-40 min until the lentils are broken up.

    3) If the soup is too thick (mine was not) thin it with a bit more water. Season with salt and pepper

    4) You can serve straight from the pot or whizz it with a blender then reheat if necessary

    5) Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle liberally with the chopped onion and parsley. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top.

    I did not do step #5, I forgot and it was still SO good. Everyone had seconds.

    Enjoy and please share with Anita.


    • Hi Estelle,

      It sounds like it has an Indian flavor, which I would love! Is Fenugreek a seed or do you buy it fresh?? I will make it this week but please let me know about the fenugreek! Also cumin or cumin seeds? Don’t they stay hard???

      Thank you!!!!


      I will send it to her right now!!

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