It’s soup season, and while I’ve been enjoying lots of homemade soups like lentil and vegetable, and recently this peanut curry soup, my all time favorite soup is matzo ball. The ultimate in Jewish comfort foods, matzo ball soup continues to provide much needed warmth throughout the cold fall and winter months. Growing up, matzo ball soup was just the precursor to Shabbat dinners at my grandparents’ house with seemingly endless amounts of food, but to me it was the highlight of the meal. I’d happily burn my tongue slurping this soup too fast and go back into the kitchen for seconds after finishing my first helping and all of the carrots from my cousin Sara’s bowl (she never liked cooked carrots).
It’s also one of those soups that I think is best when kept simple and traditional. For this recipe, I used homemade chicken broth that I had sitting in the freezer, and adapted the matzo ball recipe from the cookbook Memories of Mary’s Kitchen, which my grandma and her sisters made in memory of their mother and my great-grandmother, Mary Rosenberg. In the book, there’s a great chicken soup recipe, so I’ll post the instructions for how to make broth as well.
Adapted from Best Knoedel Recipe in Memories of Mary’s Kitchen Cookbook
4 eggs (well-beaten)
½ cup water
1/3 cup melted shortening (I used veggie oil)
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup matzo meal
First add water, shortening (or oil), salt, and pepper to well-beaten eggs. Mix well and then add the matzo meal in gradually, stirring thoroughly. Let stand at least one hour (overnight is preferable) in refrigerator. Once mixture has chilled, wet your hands and shape the matzo balls by gently rolling between your hands. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and carefully drop in the matzo balls. Cover with a lid and continue to cook on a low boil for 25 minutes, then remove and let cool, or place directly into soup broth and serve.
*N.B: Matzo balls tend to expand, so I like to roll them into 1-2 inch balls, yielding about 15.
Hearty Chicken Soup:
Adapted from Memories of Mary’s Kitchen Cookbook
12-14 chicken wingettes (necks and backs if available)
2 leeks, white parts only, washed and coarsely chopped
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 yellow onions, washed and peeled
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coin-shapes
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
6 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3-4 quarts cold water
½ teaspoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper, to taste
Fresh dill (optional)
Place chicken wings and parts, leeks, onions, celery, carrots, and parsnip in a large stockpot. Add seasonings and cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and with a spoon, skim off any froth that rises to the surface. Reduce heat, and let simmer for two hours. Once broth has cooled, skim off excess fat and season to taste with salt. Serve with matzo balls.