(Credit: (Credit: elideas.com))

(Credit: (Credit: elideas.com))

By Elizabeth SanFilippo

Passover seder is a time for families to get to get together and celebrate the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, as the story is told in Exodus 13:8. This celebration of freedom happens through stories, reading the Haggadah (including blessings and prayers), conversation and entertainment with every family member participating. After re-living the exodus, the festivities continue with a feast, where past traditions converge with the present.

Chef Phillip Foss
EL Ideas
2419 W. 14th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-8144

Chef Philip Foss owns EL Ideas restaurant, an exclusive dining room located in a Pilsen alleyway. Foss graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991, has worked in famous four-star New York City restaurants, traveled and staged in Europe with Jacques Maximin (a two-star Michelin chef), worked in Chicago at Bistrot Margot and lived and worked in Brazil, Maui, Israel and Bermuda. Prior to opening EL Ideas, Foss pioneered the Chicago food truck scene.

Foss continues to be all about innovation in the kitchen, and that creativity extends to his Passover seder recipes. As the seder feast traditionally retells the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, Foss reinvents the meal for his family celebration. All these recipes are kosher — meaning they conform to Jewish dietary law — but the chef heightens the flavors with some beautiful ingenuity to make some of the tastiest dishes you’ll eat this Passover.

(Credit: elideas.com)

(Credit: elideas.com)

Potato Leek Soup (French fries and ice cream)

6 Servings: This recipe elevates a childhood snack to a kosher Passover dish, complete with a potato leek soup, some braised leeks and a crispy potato shell filled with potato ice cream.

Potato Ingredients

  • 1 large russet potato
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt

Potato Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 1/2 russet potatoes; peeled and cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean; split
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 T salt

Potato Leek Soup Ingredients

  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch leeks; white part only; rough cut and well washed
  • 3 potatoes; peeled and cut into 2” pieces; stored in cold water
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt to taste

Melted Leeks Ingredients

  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 oz water
  • 2 large leeks; white only
  • Salt to taste

Potato Preparation Directions:

  1. Heat oil in deep fryer to 250 degrees F.
  2. Prepare 2 sheets of aluminum foil 6” X 6”. Spray on both sides with vegetable oil and wrap around stainless steel cylinders 1” in diameter.
  3. Cut the potato into 3” uniform discs and peel (reserve ends for soup). Using a vegetable sheeter, process potato into 1/16” thick sheets. Trim ends to uniform size, measure and slice to 7” pieces.
  4. Lay down three sheets side by side, place the cylinder on top and snugly roll potatoes around the cylinder. Repeat process with remaining potatoes. Place in basket for the deep fryer and fry until golden brown.
  5. Remove, season with salt and place on a paper towel. Once cool to the touch, carefully remove potato tuiles from the cylinder and keep on toweling in a warm place.

Potato Ice Cream Directions:

  1. Place potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water to cover by 1”.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to a soft boil and cook until fork tender.
  3. Strain using a colander and allow to air dry for 60 seconds. Puree through a food mill and set aside.
  4. Combine the cream and milk and half of the sugar in a heavy clad sauce pan. Scrape vanilla from the pod and add to the pot along with the bean itself.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat. While heating, combine the egg and remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until fluffy.
  6. Once cream mixture is hot, temper half of the contents into the mixing bowl and whisk vigorously.
  7. Pour this back into the pot with the remaining cream mixture and cook over a low heat while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Once the mixture coats the back of the spoon, pour over the top of the reserved potato puree, strain through a fine-meshed sieve and season with salt (seasoning should be more akin to that of mashed potatoes than one would usually use for an ice cream).
  8. Cool over ice. Once chilled, place into an ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove to freezer until needed.

Potato Leek Soup Directions:

  1. In a heavy gauged sauce pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt, and slowly sweat until translucent.
  2. Remove potatoes from water and add to the leeks.
  3. Continue sweating until potatoes are translucent and add water. Bring to a boil over high heat and lower to a soft boil.
  4. Once the potatoes are fork tender, add the cream and return to a boil.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Season to taste and reserve hot.

Melted Leek Directions:

  1. Slice the leeks lengthwise and cut into thin pieces. Wash well and drain.
  2. In a heavy gauged sauté pan, place the leeks, water and butter. Season with salt, place over high heat and cook until all of the water has evaporated.
  3. Adjust seasoning if necessary and reserve warm.

Assemble the Soup Directions:

  1. Remove ice cream from the freezer and temper if necessary.
  2. Place into a pastry bag without a pastry tip and pipe into the center of the potato tuiles. Return to freezer for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the reserved melted leeks into the center of a soup bowl and place the potato tuile with the ice cream on top. Pour the hot potato leek soup around the bowl and serve immediately.

Related: Best Kosher Food in Chicago

Fig-Mint of Lamb

4 servings: A lamb bone is traditionally served at the seder to symbolize the slaying of the first born plague. The correlation to tradition ends there though. Though it is suggested as a passed appetizer, it can be served as a side dish instead.

  • 2 Colorado racks of lamb; split, chine bone removed, bones scraped (the lamb is best when marinated for 2-3 days in the marinade). If there is no time, Chef Foss suggests cutting the rack into chops, tossing them in marinade and grilling instead.
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper, freshly ground to taste

Fig-mint marinade ingredients:
(Yields more than necessary; the rest may be stored in the fridge for several weeks in an airtight container)

  • 1/2 lb dried figs
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp black pepper; freshly ground


  1. Trim the stems of the dried figs and remove the majority of the stems from the mint and the parsley.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and half of the water in a vita-mix blender and process until formed into a puree. Add the remaining water.
  3. Check the flavor. This marinade should have notes of sweetness, acidity from the vinegar and then a good dose of spice from the black pepper on the finish. Adjust to your liking.
  4. Place the lamb racks in a small and deep container with the bones up and cover with the marinade. Leave the bones clean.
  5. Allow to marinate for 2-3 days.
  6. Ignite a charcoal grill and preheat an oven to 400˚ F.
  7. Remove the lamb from the marinade and clean off any excess marinade.
  8. Wrap the bones of the lamb with aluminum foil and season liberally with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  9. Sear the lamb on all sides over the grill. Transfer to a pan fitted with a wire rack and cook for 15 minutes for medium rare.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes in a warm place. Slice and serve warm on platters as an appetizer.

Halibut with shaved green and purple asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, morels and beurre rouge

4 portions: This fish course is served with delicious ingredients that are in season in the spring, just in time for Passover.

  • 4 fillets halibut; 6 oz each
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 green asparagus
  • 2 purple asparagus
  • Balsamic vinaigrette to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Beurre rouge ingredients

  • 8 oz red wine
  • 1 Tbsp shallot; minced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 oz cream
  • 8 oz unsalted butter; cubed and chilled
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Binje potatoe ingredients

  • 1 bintje potatoes
  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Morel ingredients:

  • 8 oz fresh morels; trimmed and well washed
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp minced shallot
  • Salt to taste

Beurre Rouge Directions:

  1. Pour red wine into a non-reactive sauce pot, add shallots and thyme sprigs and reduce over medium-high heat until reduced to a syrup-like consistency. Add the cream and reduce by half.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Using a wire whisk, add a couple cubes of the butter and incorporate while whisking continuously until melted. Gradually add more butter using the same technique until all of the butter is incorporated.
  3. Strain through a fine meshed strainer and keep warm (but not hot).

Bintje Potato Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Wash potatoes under cold water and transfer to paper towel to dry.
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer to aluminum foil and cover completely with the foil. Place onto a sheet pan and place into oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from foil and keep warm.

Morels Directions:

  1. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat and add butter.
  2. Add the shallots and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the morels and sweat until tender.
  4. Season to taste and keep warm.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200° F.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the asparagus to create long ‘shavings’.
  3. Make basic balsamic vinaigrette with a good balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Heat the butter in a non-reactive sauté pan over medium heat.
  5. Season the halibut with salt and add to the pan. Cook just to turn the flesh a light white color (no brown) and place in the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or just until the fish cooks through. Transfer to a resting rack and keep warm.
  6. Lightly and gently toss the asparagus in the balsamic vinegar and season to taste.
  7. Place the potatoes in the center of heated plates and spoon the beurre rouge around.
  8. Distribute the morels around the dish and place the halibut on top of the potatoes.
  9. Gently place shaved asparagus atop the halibut and serve.

Related: The Best Potato Latkes Recipe Ever

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.