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Matzo Ball Soup

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Soul-warming matzo ball soup, affectionately known as Jewish penicillin, reigns as the ultimate comfort food. Step into tradition and learn the secret to its hallmark savory broth and perfectly fluffy matzo balls.

Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken soup with matzo balls, affectionately known as Jewish penicillin or “matzo ball soup” for short, is a traditional Jewish comfort food. It is traditionally served on Passover, along with other classics like brisket and matzo crack, but Jewish mothers and grandmothers think of it as a year-round cure-all for everything. Got a cold? Matzo ball soup! Feeling blue? Matzo ball soup! It’s also a beloved Jewish deli staple.

This recipe comes from my dear friend Dana Kaminsky, who is known in my family for making the world’s best matzo ball soup. Holiday gatherings at Dana’s are never complete without a matzo ball eating contest—my daughter proudly holds the record for six (impressive or concerning, we’re not entirely sure)—and we’ve yet to find another matzo ball soup that rivals Dana’s. If you can, make a double batch and freeze some; you’ll thank yourself later.

“I made this recipe for my family, and we all loved it! I was a little nervous at first because I had never made matzah ball soup from scratch before…My family even thought it was better than Bubbie’s.”

Jessica Silverman

The Essentials: Broth and Balls

Matzo ball soup is a two-part recipe that includes from-scratch chicken broth and matzo balls. Making the broth is a bit of a potschke, as my mother would say, a Yiddish term meaning it requires some fussing. It’s not hard—you pretty much throw everything into a pot and forget it—but it’s a two-day process, so you need to plan ahead.

The matzo balls, or knaydelach in Yiddish, are much easier to prepare. A quintessential Jewish dish, especially in Ashkenazi households, they’re made from matzo meal, eggs, water, and fat, and can vary in texture from light “floaters” to dense “sinkers.” Dana’s version consistently yields perfect floaters using Streit’s Matzo Ball Mix (don’t knock it—it’s genuinely good!)

What You’ll Need To Make Matzo Ball Soup

matzo ball soup ingredients
  • Whole chicken: Provides the base for the broth, contributing rich flavor and nutrients. The meat can be used in the soup or for other dishes, like chicken salad.
  • Onions, turnips, carrots, celery: These vegetables add depth and sweetness to the broth, enhancing its flavor and nutritional content.
  • Bay leaves and parsley sprigs: Herbs that infuse the broth with aromatic flavors.
  • Celery seed: Adds a slightly bitter, earthy flavor that complements the other vegetables and enriches the overall taste of the broth.
  • Chicken bouillon powder: Boosts the chicken flavor of the broth, making it more robust and savory.
  • Vegetable oil: Used in the matzo ball mixture to add moisture and help bind the ingredients together.
  • Eggs: Act as a binding agent in the matzo balls, helping them hold together while cooking and providing a light, fluffy texture.
  • Streit’s Matzo Ball Mix: The primary ingredient for the matzo balls, providing the specific flavor and texture associated with traditional matzo balls. This mix simplifies the preparation process and ensures consistent results.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Chicken Broth

Begin by placing the chicken and vegetables in a 12-quart soup pot. Add about 6 quarts of water to fill the pot.

chicken, vegetables, and water in a large soup pot

Bring to a gentle boil.

gently boiling soup

Boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, skimming off any froth or scum as it forms.

skimming fat from the surface of the soup

Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaves, parsley sprigs, celery seed, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper.

adding seasoning and parsley to the soup

Cover and simmer 3½ hours more. 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 and a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and large vegetables from the soup and discard (they will be too mushy to serve). Place a fine mesh strainer over a very large bowl or soup pot, and pour the soup through the strainer to strain out all the remaining solids. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

straining the soup

Step 2: Make the Matzo Balls

Combine the oil and eggs in a large bowl, then add both bags of matzo ball mix.

eggs, oil and matzo ball mix in bowl

Mix to combine, then let sit for 15 minutes.

matzo mall mixture in bowl

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wet your hands and gently roll the mixture into golf ball-sized balls (do not compact!).

rolling matzo balls

Carefully drop the matzo balls into the boiling water.

dropping matzo balls into boiling water

Bring back to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 30 minutes. The matzo balls will increase significantly in size. The reason for cooking the matzo balls separately is that they would make the chicken broth cloudy and soak up much of the soup.

cooked matzo balls in pot

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the matzo balls to a large plate or plastic 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.)

Step 3: Serve the Soup

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 enough salt, chicken soup is very bland.

simmering chicken soup

Next, carefully drop the chopped carrots and matzo balls into the simmering broth. Cook until the carrots are cooked and the matzo balls are hot throughout. You’ll know everything is ready when the carrots are tender and the matzo balls float to the top.

matzo balls simmering in soup

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make matzo ball soup ahead of time?

Yes, matzo ball soup can definitely be made ahead of time. You can prepare and cook the broth and matzo balls separately, storing them separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, reheat the broth, bring it to a simmer, and then add the matzo balls and let them simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are heated through.

Can matzo ball soup be frozen?

Yes, the soup and the matzo balls can be frozen separately for up to 3 months. To enjoy later, defrost both the soup and the matzo balls in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once the soup is simmering, add the defrosted matzo balls and let them simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are soft in the center and thoroughly heated through.

What if I don’t have a 12-quart stock pot?

No worries! You can simply divide all of the ingredients between two smaller pots, using a cut-up chicken divided equally between them.

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Matzo Ball Soup

Soul-warming matzo ball soup, affectionately known as Jewish penicillin, reigns as the ultimate comfort food. Step into tradition and learn the secret to its hallmark savory broth and perfectly fluffy matzo balls.

Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients

For the Soup

  • 1 (4 to 5) pound chicken, giblets removed, whole or cut into pieces (see note)
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 turnips, peeled and quartered (optional)
  • 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
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (preferably kosher, such as Osem Chicken Style Consommé Instant Soup and Seasoning Mix)

For the Matzo Balls

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 box Streit's Matzo Ball Mix (2 bags of matzo ball mix)

For Serving

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley or dill

Instructions

For the Soup

  1. Place the chicken, onions, turnips (if using), carrots and celery in a large 12-quart stock pot. Add about 6 quarts of water to fill the pot, and 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, celery seed, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon white pepper. Cover and simmer 3½ hours more. Let the soup cool on the stovetop until the pot is no longer hot; then place the 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 and a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and large vegetables from the soup and discard (they will be too mushy to serve). Place a fine mesh strainer over a very large bowl or clean soup pot, and pour the soup through the strainer to strain out all the remaining solids. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

For the Matzo Balls

  1. Combine the oil and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in both bags of matzo ball mix and and sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wet your hands and gently roll the mixture into golf ball-sized balls (do not compact!). Carefully drop the matzo balls into the boiling water. Bring back to a boil, 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 plastic 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 how much water you used. I like a well-seasoned soup, so I add at least 2 tablespoons of bouillon powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper (in addition to the salt and pepper already added); just add the seasoning gradually, tasting as you go, until the soup tastes flavorful.
  2. Add the carrots and cooked matzo balls to the pot and simmer until the carrots are tender and the matzo balls are hot throughout, 20 to 30 minutes. You'll know the matzo balls are heated through when they float to the surface. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley or dill.
  3. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup and the matzo balls can be frozen separately for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup and the matzo balls in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once the soup is hot, add the matzo balls and simmer until the matzo balls are soft in the center and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Note: If you don't have a 12-quart stock pot, use two smaller pots and a cut-up chicken, divided between the two pots.
  5. Note: If you'd like to use the meat from the chicken in the soup or other dishes, use a cut-up chicken and pull out the chicken breasts after simmering for 20 to 30 minutes; let them cool slightly, pull the meat and reserve, then return the bones to the simmering broth. This will prevent the meat from drying out.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (12 servings)
  • Calories: 212
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Sodium: 430 mg
  • Cholesterol: 81 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Just finished making your delicious soup. I have always followed this recipe exactly. This time, however, you can taste the parsnip in the soup. (Only used 1/2 of one parsnip). Any suggestions to mask that taste. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

    • — Gail Dickler on September 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hmmm…I think I’d add a little more water and a bouillon cube. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 5, 2023
      • Reply
  • Amazing!!! Super delicious & easier than I expected. Thanks for this! 🙏🏻

    • — Olivia on August 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this for Passover this year. It was the best mbs I’ve ever made, and people raved about the stock and asked for the recipe. This is a keeper!

    • — Katie on April 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • hi jenn–just made your matzoh ball soup last night and have a question. my soup turned out quite dark–not the lovely golden light color that i expected. i followed your directions except i used parsnips and added 2 tsp blackpeppercorns. could the peppercorns be the culprit? i tried to query the internet but cannot find why this happened although lots of others had the same problem. might cooking it too high have been a problem–i always have a problem getting a perfect simmer. it was delicious as are all your recipes but if you have an answer I’d love to know it. many thx.

    • — Wendy Nalven on April 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, that’s odd! As far as I know, the peppercorns shouldn’t impact the color. Did you roast the chicken first by chance? Did you make any changes to the recipe? What type of pot did you use?

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2023
      • Reply
      • no jenn–other than the parsnips and peppercorns followed recipe religiously.
        as far as the pot goes it was the same 12 or 13 quart ancient farberware
        stainless pot i’ve always used and loved. my husband thinks i’m nuts
        but i can’t stand the mystery–tomorrow i’m going to make another pot and
        see if anything changes. i’ll be VERY careful about a low low simmer because
        it’s the only thing i can think of that might be an issue. do you keep the cover
        completely closed or slightly ajar? will let you know if i solved the
        mystery…yours, nancy drew

        • — Wendy on April 10, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hmmm…it sounds like a bit of a mystery — hope you get to the bottom of it. (And when it’s cooking, I cover it completely.)

          • — Jenn on April 11, 2023
          • Reply
  • I cannot comment just yet, because I am going to make it, but I have no doubt this recipe will be replacing my wonderful Matzo ball soup. I made my whole Thanksgiving dinner with your recipes and everyone was a hit!! You are my go to for all important ( and some not important) meals. I will rate once it is made and served. In the meantime I have a question(love that i can ask). We are 5 adults and 3 children( ages 3 to 8). I have a 5 and 1/2 qt. Le Creuset dutch oven, 3 qt.Le Creuset Dutch oven, and a 3 qt all clad stainless steel pot.
    Not sure how I should go about making this the best way. Make less, Make it twice in my larger dutch oven, or use all 3 pots at the same time, trying to divide ingredients in thirds? What would you recommend? Thank you for all your help always!

    • — Terri on April 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Terri, I would separate the ingredients into your three pots so you don’t have to make it twice. Once you’ve drained the chicken and veggies, you should have enough room in your Dutch oven to combine all the ingredients there. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Thank you for the recipe. I make chicken soup all the time. I make mine very similar to yours. The only things I leave out are the bay leaves and the dill. I add parsnips extra. Oh, I also never add the bouillon. Never need to. One thing I’m confused about. Why would you not fully season the broth as it cooks with the vegetables? That seasons the meat AND the vegetables. Also, why toss the vegetables the broth cooks with? I’ve cooked it for hours and yes, the vegetables are soft, but oh so flavourful. By vegetables I mean carrots, and parsnips. (as a treat I eat the celery all by myself, and the parsnip bunches – I do not share haahaa) One lady before me mentioned how her soup turned totally gelatinous and she was confused and not able to skim the fat. Well, the more gelatinous it is the more perfect your broth is (all the goodness has leached from the bones and skins of the chicken into the broth). Just warm it up and when it’s all melted and clear, toss a folded piece of paper towel over it. Remove and repeat until all the fat, or close to it, has disappeared. I hope this helps those that haven’t a lot of experience.

    • — Suzanna on March 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have eaten this soup since childhood and it was my pregnancy urge. But I cannot stand to toss the chicken out. To avoid mush, I remove the breast meat from the whole chicken when it’s done, leaving the bones and all the rest intact, perhaps sneaking a thigh for a treat, and finish the long simmer. I’ve done it both ways and there is no difference in the quality of the broth, but I have the benefit of a whole chicken breast to do with what I will. Thanks for the tip on the bouillon. It is so much better than what I was using!

    • — Mary on March 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • how many matzo balls does this recipe ( 2 envelopes) make and are they large?

    • — Joni Antweil on March 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Joni, I believe it makes about 12 matzo balls. They should be golf ball-size when you form them but expand quite a bit. If you’re serving this as a first course, I’d go with one matzo ball per person.

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Me again 🙂 I made this broth late in the evening so it will be cooling on the counter overnight. Is it fine if I skipped the 8 hrs in the fridge and just move to the next step of straining, simmering, seasoning and cooking the carrots? Thank you! Love all that you give here. Everything here is truly an act of service.

    • — Ling on February 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Ling, that should be fine. And always happy to help! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 1, 2023
      • Reply

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