As the temperature continues to drop and with flu season upon us, nothing pleases me more than the thought of bundling up under a warm duvet with a sappy chick flick (leggo Notebook!) and a nice big bowl of hot soup. Enter Matzo ball pepper soup, my play on traditional Matzo ball soup and Nigerian pepper soup. Picture golf-ball-size dumplings steaming in a spicy hot broth accompanied by tender tripe – a.k.a shaki – (or even oxtail if you prefer). Does it get more magical?
For those of you entering new territories, pepper soup is a go-to Nigerian soup, often also recommended when you’re feeling under the weather. It consists of spices and a protein that are simmered together in a broth to extract flavors. Also involving a broth is Matzo ball soup, a traditional Jewish dish comprised of boiled dumplings (preparation methods very) served in a chicken broth with veg. Now this wouldn’t be biscuitboneblog if we didn’t try to merge the two. Let me know what you think!
**NOTE: Check your local butchers for tripe, though you may have to pre-order. If you live in Manhattan, there are a number of butcher shops between 38th-42nd St. and 9th Ave. that sell it. Also check your local African stores for the pepper soup spices. I got my pepper soup spice blend from my mum, and I’m not sure of all the ingredients in it. The following blogs have ingredient breakdowns:
Lastly, I mostly followed Ina Garten’s Matzo ball recipe to make mine, with a few changes: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/matzo-balls-recipe/index.html
Yields 4-6 servings
1-2 cups of cleaned tripe (shaki) cut in bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp thyme
1-2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper or paprika
1-2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups fresh chicken stock (optional)
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper (optional)
1-3 scotch bonnet/habanero peppers
2 tbsp ground crayfish
1 tbsp pepper soup spice
1 tbsp negro pepper
1 knorr/maggi cube
Water, as needed
½ bunch fresh basil
4 eggs, separated
½ cup fresh chicken stock
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh basil, minced
2 tsp table salt or 1 tsp sea salt
1-1.5 cup matzo meal
Fresh basil, as needed
1. Season tripe with thyme, curry powder, cayenne/paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to pot with chicken stock till tripe is submerged by more than half (may need to add water). Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Skim surface.
2. Blend onion, bell pepper (if using) and habanero peppers with a little chicken stock or water until smooth. Add to soup
3. Add crayfish, pepper soup spice, negro pepper, knorr/maggi cube. Simmer soup for 2-3 hours until tripe is tender, stirring from time to time. Add basil in last half hour.
4. While soup is simmering, whisk yolk, stock, oil, basil and salt in a bowl. Slowly stir in matzo meal.
5. In another bowl, whisk egg whites with pinch of salt to stiff peak (an electric mixer will come in handy here!).
6. Gradually fold whisked egg whites into matzo meal in batches until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 20-30 minutes to thicken.
7. Boil water in a pot with one or two pinches of salt. Wet hands and roll matzo meal into golf-size balls. If not thick enough, add a little bit more matzo meal and refrigerate until thickened. Transfer all matzo balls to boiling water then reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes – flip once. The balls will puff up.
8. If soup has reduced too much, add more water or stock. Using sieve, strain pepper soup into a bowl for clear soup – save tripe.
9. Once puffed, place matzo ball in bowl with tripe and ladle in hot strained pepper soup. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.