Recipe: Bill Telepan’s Matzo Ball Borscht Soup

Bill Telepan's shares his vegan, beet-infused take on traditional Matzo Ball Soup for Passover.
Photo: Aruba

Few things are as daunting as making dinner for dozens of guests—and each of their unique dietary restrictions—all at once. Throw in the super-restrictive holiday of Passover, and you’ve got a (breadless) recipe for distress.

Which is why we asked Bill Telepan, the chef behind Upper West Site hotspot Telepan, to come to our rescue. He shared with us one of his signature Passover-friendly dishes, which he first debuted at Telepan Local, the now-shuttered off-shoot of his celebrated restaurant.

Here he shares the recipe for his Matzo Ball Borscht Soup, a blend of two traditional soups for an outcome that’s totally tasty. Not only is it healthy, but the beet and veggie based-soup is also completely  vegan.

Give the recipe a try and wow your Seder (or just weekday supper) dinner guests.

Bill Telepan’s Matzo Ball Borscht Soup

Soup base

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup celery root, peeled, cut into small pieces
1 leek, sliced circles, washed well
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
9.5 cups vegetable stock

Over medium heat, heat oil and add onion and garlic and cook covered until it starts to be aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add celery root, leeks, and carrots cook covered for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add stock and simmer about one hour. Strain and reserve.

Soup vegetables

4 medium chioggia beets, tops cut off
3 tbsp olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
½ cup carrot, diced
½ cup celery root, diced
½ cup leeks, sliced
1 cup cabbage, chopped
6 ounces each bread & butter pickle juice and dill pickle juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Put beets in an oven-proof baking pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of water, and a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover beets with heavy foil and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Peel the beets and cut into 1/3 inch diced. In a small pot with lid, heat oil on medium heat, add carrots and celery root with a pinch of salt and cook the vegetables slowly, no color, for 5 minutes. Add leek and cabbage and cook additional 5 minutes. Add to soup with beets and pickle juices.

Matzo balls

2 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
2 Tbsp seltzer
½ cup matzo meal mix

Whip eggs in a bowl until pale and frothy. Add seltzer, mix in matzo meal, and blend well with a fork. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, up to 1 hour (this can be done while soup is simmering). When ready, form the mix into balls, 8–10 for large, 16 for small. Add some salt to broth, drop balls into simmering broth and cook small for 8 minutes, large for 12. Add cooked vegetables (recipe follows) and simmer additional 5 minutes. Season soup.

Dill oil

2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish
Pinch salt
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix together and let stand at least 1 hour. Spoon over soup when serving.

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