Many, many years ago my friend Rick Schwartz (the great guy who taught me how to make latkes) returned from a visit to his mom’s house with a container of homemade schmaltz (rendered chicken fat commonly used in Jewish cooking). The next day we made matzo ball soup together and I fell totally in love – with Matzo Ball soup. I’ve been in love ever since.
Like all chicken soup, matzo ball soup is truly one of world’s greatest comfort foods. A bowl of chicken soup just says LOVE. My version contains a few more vegetables and herbs than most recipes (think chicken noodle without the noodles) and it always gets rave reviews.
If you read my Vegetable Beef & Farro Soup post, you already know that soup making for me is more of of a process than a recipe… this soup turns out slightly different every time I make it, depending on what herbs and seasonings I decide use.
If you would like to serve up a bowl of comfort and love to your family, give this a try and feel free to improvise. The most important thing is that it tastes good to you!
Note: If you are looking for a simpler matzo ball soup, just buy a box of matzo ball soup mix and follow the package directions.
- 1 whole chicken (for stock, chicken, and chicken fat)*
- 1 medium onion
- 4 small carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 box matzo ball mix (use one pouch)**
- 2 eggs
- Oregano, thyme, fresh parsley, salt & pepper for seasoning
- Organic “Better than Bouillon” chicken base, if needed
- * You can substitute 8 cups of chicken stock and two cups of cooked chicken for the whole chicken in the recipe. Just jump ahead in the recipe to the matzo ball mixing stage and continue as the recipe states.
- **Matzo ball packages generally call for 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. I substitute some chicken fat skimmed from my stock because I think it gives a flavor similar to schmaltz. I also increase the fat to 3 Tbsp., which makes for a more tender matzo ball. You can use vegetable oil in the recipe or if you have schmaltz on-hand, that would be the absolute best!
- Remove giblets from chicken, rinse it and pat dry. Place chicken in a large stock pot and cover completely with 10 cups of water. Simmer chicken until it is cooked through.
- Test by pulling on the leg joint – it should be loose and the meat inside the joint should be white (not red). Remove the chicken from the pot to cool.
- Bring the pot of chicken stock to a simmer, skimming off the fat from the stock as it rises (save 3 Tbsp. of fat for the matzo balls). Taste the stock and season it with salt, pepper, and chicken base to get the flavor right. Set the stock aside (you will need approximately 8 cups of well seasoned stock).
- In a medium bowl, combine matzo ball mix with 2 eggs and 3 Tbsp. of the chicken fat removed from the stock. Stir to combine then refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Cut the carrots, celery, and onion into medium dice. In a second soup pan, sauté the vegetables in a bit of oil until they soften slightly. Season vegetables with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Add 8 cups of stock to the pot and reduce the temperature to low.
- Remove the skin from the cooled chicken. Slice the breast meat for the soup and set aside (save remaining meat for another use).
- Remove the matzo ball mixture from the refrigerator and form it into small balls – be careful not to roll the balls too firmly; they should hold together, but not be made too dense by over-rolling. There should be enough mix to make approximately 12 matzo balls.
- Add the chicken breast meat to the pot and bring the soup to a gentle boil. Add the matzo balls and continue cooking at a gentle boil for another 15 minutes. Matzo balls will float to the top of the pot as they finish cooking.
- Taste the soup again and adjust seasonings by adding salt, pepper, and base if needed. Chop some fresh parsley and add to the soup just before serving.
- Ladle up some love and be sure to include at least one matzo ball per serving.