A favorite recipe from a cherished 1949 cookbook

I love “The Jewish Cookery.” It’s a 400-page cookbook by Leah W. Leonard from 1949 that I found in a used bookstore. There are lots of recipes, but not a lot of instructions, which I like because it’s a throwback to a time when we could take some risks in our cooking. It didn’t quite matter how finely we chopped the onions or the precise length of time we sautéed the vegetables. We could trust ourselves and our taste buds to figure it out.

This soup, adapted from “The Jewish Cookery,” is definitely more like a cholent. This is not a fancy recipe. You basically throw everything in the pot and cook it slowly. The longer you cook it, the more everything breaks down and comes together.

I imagine my great-grandmother and many other women like her cooking a huge pot on Friday, and keeping it warm in the stove for a hearty Sabbath lunch or dinner. The types of vegetables and beans are really just suggestions. You can use whatever you have on hand. The original recipe called for lima beans, but my kids prefer white beans.

As for my latke recipe, the important thing here isn’t whether you decide to use matzah meal instead of flour, add a small onion or a no onion at all — the important thing is that you make the latkes, that your kitchen gets a little messy and smells like fried greasy potatoes and that you kind of let it all go and just have fun.

Here’s the other important thing — celebrate Hanukkah, light the candles and sit around the table, gobble up the latkes and share stories about your parents and grandparents.


Mother Wolff Soup

Serves 8

1 large onion

1 cup chopped potatoes

1 cup chopped carrots

1 sweet potato, cut up

1 cup chopped parsnips

oil for sautéing

2 lbs. lean stew meat

1⁄2 lb. marrow bones

2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight

1 cup yellow lentils or yellow split peas

1 cup brown rice

4-6 cups broth

salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion and all the vegetables in a tablespoon or two of oil. Put the meat and bones in the pot and stir until meat browns a little. Drain beans and add to pot with lentils or split peas and rice. Add the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then put in 350-degree oven for a couple hours. If soup is too thick, add more broth or water.



Makes 6-8

3 large potatoes

1 small onion

3 eggs

11⁄2 tsp. of salt

1⁄4 cup to 1⁄3 cup matzah meal or flour

pinch of baking powder

Grate the potatoes and drain really well either by pressing them with the back of a spoon in a fine mesh strainer or squeezing them through a cheesecloth.

Grate the onion and mix with the eggs. Add the grated strained potatoes and the salt, matzah meal or flour and baking powder.

Pour 1⁄4 cup of oil in a fry pan and measure about 1⁄4 cup of mixture into the hot oil to form the pancakes. Flip when underside side is nice and brown and fry the other side.

Serve immediately with applesauce.



Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a writer who lives in San Francisco.