Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
This recipe comes from my friend Dana Kaminsky, who, according to my family, makes the best chicken-matzo ball soup. Whenever we go to Dana’s house for the Jewish holidays, my kids have matzo ball eating contests and stuff themselves silly — my daughter holds the record with six, which was once cause for concern — and, for every other soup we try, the verdict is always the same: “it’s good, but not as good as Dana’s.”
The soup is a bit of a “potschke,” as my mother would say (meaning it requires some fussing). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard — you pretty much throw everything into a pot and forget it — but it’s a two-day project so you want to make it well ahead of time. In fact, it tastes better if you do. And, if you have two large pots, you might as well double the recipe and freeze some for later.
The matzo balls, however, are quick and easy. They’re made from a mix, which I know might seem sacrilege but they’re light, fluffy and foolproof (as long as you follow the tips below), so why reinvent the wheel?
Begin by placing the chicken and vegetables in a large 12-quart soup pot.
Add water to fill the pan almost to the top.
Boil gently for 20 minutes, skimming any foam or scum that rises to the surface.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 3-1/2 hours more. If you want to use the chicken (either in the finished soup or for another purpose), remove the whole chicken after 90 minutes and pull the meat off the bone, then place the carcass back in the soup and continue cooking.
Let the soup cool in the fridge overnight. In the morning, skim most of the fat (but not all) off the top. Pull out the chicken, then strain the soup into a smaller pot through a large colander. Discard the veggies, as they will be very mushy.
Strain the soup one more time through a fine sieve. This will ensure the broth is golden and clear.
At this point, the soup is done except for the seasoning, so refrigerate until ready to serve.
Now, make the matzo balls. Simply follow the directions on the box: Combine the eggs with the oil, then stir in the matzo ball mix. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes, then roll into walnut-sized balls. For the lightest and fluffiest matzo balls that float, use a very light hand when forming the balls — do not compact!
Drop the matzo balls into a large pot of boiling water. (Note: definitely do not cook them in your chicken soup, or the broth will become cloudy and the matzo balls will soak up all your soup!)
Cover the matzo balls and simmer for 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to serve, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Add the powdered bouillon, salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that you’ll need a lot of seasoning — without it, the soup will be very bland. Next, drop the chopped carrots and matzo balls into the simmering broth. Cook until the carrots are tender and the matzo balls are hot throughout. You’ll know everything is ready when the carrots and matzo balls float to the top.
Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with some fresh parsley or dill and serve.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
For the Soup
- 1 (4-5) pound whole chicken
- 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
- 3 turnips, peeled and quartered
- 6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (or substitute 1 lb. baby carrots)
- 5 celery stalks with greens, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- About 10 fresh parsley sprigs
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1-2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (preferably kosher, such as Osem Chicken Style Consommé Instant Soup and Seasoning Mix)
- White pepper
For the Matzo Balls
- 1 box Streit's Matzo Ball Mix (2 bags of matzo mix)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley or dill
For the Soup
- Place the chicken, onions, turnips, carrots and celery in a large 12-quart stock pot and add enough water to fill the pan almost to the top, 6-8 quarts. Bring to boil. Let the soup boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, skimming off any froth or scum as it forms. Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaves, parsley sprigs, celery seed, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Cover and simmer 3-1/2 hours more. (Note: if you want to use the chicken in the finished soup or for another purpose, remove the chicken from the soup after 90 minutes, pull the meat off the bone and return the carcass to the pot.) Let the soup cool on the stovetop until the pot is no longer hot; then place the soup pot in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, remove the pot from the refrigerator and skim most -- but not all -- of the fat from the surface of the soup. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the soup and discard. Place a colander over a large bowl or pot, and pour the soup through the colander to strain out all the vegetables. Discard the vegetables (they will be too mushy to serve with the soup). Place a fine mesh strainer over a smaller soup pot and strain the soup again to be sure the broth is clear. Discard the remaining solids. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.
For the Matzo Balls
- Follow the instructions on the package to combine the oil and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the package ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wet your hands and gently roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls (do not compact!). Drop the matzo balls into the boiling water. Bring back to a boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the matzo balls to a large plate or tupperware container. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Note: if you're making the matzo balls at the last minute, you can transfer them right from the boiling water into the chicken soup.)
- Bring the soup to a simmer. Add the chicken bouillon powder, along with more salt and pepper to taste. (The amount of seasoning you add will depend on your personal preference and on how much water you used. I like a well-seasoned soup, so I add about 2 tablespoons of bouillon powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper -- just add the seasoning gradually, tasting as you go, until the soup tastes flavorful.)
- Add the carrots and cooked matzo balls and simmer until the carrots are cooked and the matzo balls are hot throughout -- both are ready when they float to the surface. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley or dill.
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