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Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

4.5 stars based on 8 votes

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.”

soup-ingredients

Ingredients for the Soup

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?

Ingredients for the Matzo Balls

Ingredients for the Matzo Balls

Begin by placing the chicken and vegetables in a large 12-quart soup pot.

chicken-and-veggies-in-pot

Add water to fill the pan almost to the top.

chicken-veggies-and-water

Boil gently for 20 minutes, skimming any foam or scum that rises to the surface.

skimming-soup

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.

after-simmering

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.

straining-soup

Strain the soup one more time through a fine sieve. This will ensure the broth is golden and clear.

straining-soup-2

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!

making-matzo-balls

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!)

boiling-matzo-balls

Cover the matzo balls and simmer for 30 minutes.

cooked-matzo-ball

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.

simmering-soup-wth-carrots-and-matzo-balls

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with some fresh parsley or dill and serve.

Chicken-Soup-with-Matzo-Balls-2

Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Servings: 10-12

Ingredients

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)
  • Salt
  • 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

For Serving

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley or dill

Instructions

For the Soup

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)

For Serving

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I did not use the recommended amount of salt because the chicken cubes are loaded with salt and I added two parsnips for sweetness. Everyone loved it.

    - Marion on May 3, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    I’m very good with making g chicken soup i suggest to put the chicken “only” when the water is boiling this prevents the foam and scum .

    - Hanna on April 6, 2017 Reply
  • Made homemade matzo ball floaters and used schmaltz I got from skimming fat off of the stock (adds more flavor), and since I am not Jewish, used baking powder to make them light and tender. Simmered mine in broth I was serving them in (I used low sodium baking powder and made my own matzo meal by putting no salt matzo in a food processor ) so they were not too salty and the broth gave them a wonderful rich chicken flavor. Family loved them! So keep your chicken fat you skim off the stock and cook with it…it will give you a better flavor!

    - RosesRBleu on March 23, 2017 Reply
  • Hmm, turnips, that’s a new idea. I occasionally add parsnips, but I’ll have to try turnips.

    My new favorite way for rendering the heartiest chicken broth from bones/carcass, is just to leave it all overnight in a slow cooker/crock pot and forget about it for 12 hours, or more. Easy peasey.

    - Mary on March 23, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Soup was excellent! My fridge would never hold a heavy large pot like that! Just set out and let cool with or without chicken. Skim with a spoon or fat mop. I kept some of the broth for the soup and added other veggies and some greens. The rest went for broth to freeze and some was made into gravy for the extra chicken I had.

    - Eileen Rice on December 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was my first time making this, my matzo balls were not great but the soup was tasty anyway

    - SD on December 3, 2016 Reply
  • Don’t you cut up the chicken first?

    - Debbie on October 1, 2016 Reply
    • No Debbie, no need to!

      - Jenn on October 2, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I am interested in making this soup to feed a bunch of skaters at our local rink! Once I finish making the soup/ balls is it ok to combine them all in a crock pot on low and keep it warm for a couple hours while serving or would the balls break apart? Thanks!! Jen

    - Jen on July 21, 2016 Reply
    • Sounds like a nice thing when getting off the ice. If you can get ahold of another crock pot, I would store the soup and the matzo balls separately and then combine them when you’re serving. If not, the matzo balls will soak up much of the soup!

      - Jenn on July 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was a terrific soup. I have made chicken broth many times before, but this was so much better. My child’s 12 year old friend had 3 servings!

    - Danielle on April 22, 2016 Reply
  • I am looking for a recipe to duplicate the almond cake served in The Court of Three Sisters in New Orleans-a very rich and heavy almond cake. Most of the recipes I have tried make a light, almost sponge-like cake. Do you have one or know where I could find one?

    BTW, I stumbled onto your website during the Snowstorm of this past weekend-something to be thankful for! Love your recipes. Have your French Apple Cake in the oven as I type this.

    Thanks!

    Valerie Wetstone

    - valerie wetstone on January 29, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Valerie, unfortunately I don’t have an almond cake recipe on the site, but this one looks good and is highly rated. (Keep in mind I haven’t tried it myself.)

      - Jenn on January 30, 2016 Reply
  • What do you do with the chicken meat? It does not appear to go back in the soup.

    - Steve Englander on January 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Loved this soup! It reminded me of the chicken soup my grandmother used to make. She made her matzo balls from scratch but to be honest, I think the mix is just as good and it makes perfect “floaters” every time (sorry, Grandma!). The key is not to handle them too much while forming the balls…just quickly shape and drop into boiling water.

    - Lynn on January 13, 2016 Reply
  • 4 stars

    The broth had such a nice rich flavor. And thank you by the way for pointing out not to cook the matzo balls in it. I’ve also made this recipe minus the matzo balls for the purpose of stock. I just don’t use any salt then. I decided to try the matzo ball mix and got caught on the 1st bite my husband. He said it reminded him of his ex-wifes ones and he didn’t like hers. LOL. Anyway back to my homemade matzo balls. And I agree with the other lady that they need schmaltz. Happy Holidays!

    - Debbie on December 9, 2014 Reply
  • Very disappointed to see you recommending to use a mix for matzah balls. They are so easy to make. There is a always a recipe on box of matzah meal. Schmaltz is also very easy. You can make it using the fat on the chicken you are cooking. 1/2 schmaltz, 1/2 butter. Schmaltz is also available in most city supermarkets but not in my small town. And it really makes the matzah balls taste great. The word render may xcare some people, but all it means is to melt the chicken fat, with some onions of course and salt and pepper. Very simple.

    - Gibbie on October 6, 2014 Reply
    • After the stock has been prepared, and the fat skimmed, could that be used to prepare a schmaltz? If I understand, schmaltz is made from rendered fat. I think this process is effectively rendering the fat. Any thoughts ?

      - Al F. on January 11, 2016 Reply
      • I guess theoretically but I don’t think you’d end up with enough to make it worthwhile. You might be better off removing the skin from the chicken before making the soup and preparing it the old-fashioned way: http://www.splendidtable.org/story/how-to-make-schmaltz

        - Jenn on January 13, 2016 Reply
        • 5 stars

          Thanks Jenn,
          You are correct, the chicken was a skinny thing and didn’t yield much fat – hardly even enough to skim (damn you, Frank Perdue!) I did saute a bit of onion in some butter (in place of the oil called for on the matzoh box). The overall result was really quite good, and not bad for a first try. Thanks for another great recipe!

          - Al on January 14, 2016 Reply
  • Thanks for the great step by step recipe, Jenn, which I’ve sent to my daughter for her files. I also use the matzo ball mix! For some reason my from scratch versions never turn out as light.

    My mom puréed the mushy vegetables and returned them to the soup. This may seem sacrilegious to clear-soup devotees, but it makes a wonderfully rich and slightly thicker soup, depending on how much of the purée you use. I almost always do this when I’m making chicken soup, with or without matzo balls. L’Shana Tova umetukah to you and your family.

    - Marlene on September 27, 2014 Reply
    • Sounds delicious to me, Marlene. Happy New Year!

      - Jenn on September 28, 2014 Reply

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