This easy recipe takes chicken soup to a new level of wonderful. Homey and delicious!
There are a few things that my son Daniel will eat without hesitation. Top of the list is mac and cheese, followed by miso soup. But if I had to choose another meal that Daniel enjoys tremendously, it would have to be Matzoh Ball Soup. Considering that I only learned about matzoh balls 3 years ago, it’s amazing how this dish is now a mainstay in our home.
Thanks to Cindy
How, you ask, did a dish that is not at all known in Malaysia or even in Nate’s or my cultural psyche suddenly become a popular dish at home? Well, a friend of mine, Cindy (who is Taiwanese-Chinese) brought some matzoh (also spelled matzo, matza, matzah) ball soup one day to a potluck at the mom’s group I attended. Being married to a Jewish man, Cindy had been introduced to this delicious all-in-one meal by her in-laws.
After one slurp of the soup and a bite of the matzoh balls, I was in love. It was everything comfort and home should be about–hearty, warm, satisfying. Once I found out how easy it was to make, it found its way into my home as well.
Thanks to Kalyn
We now live in Malaysia and matzoh is, unfortunately, hard to find here. As a matter of fact, I have not seen it yet here in Kuching. If any of you know where I could find some, please let me know. OR, if any of you know a good substitute, let me know that too. (Just don’t ask me to make my own matzohs from scratch. I’m now a working mom and I don’t have the luxury of time!)
I brought some boxes of Manishewitz matzo ball mix back with me when we moved from California last year. My stash, unfortunately, has run out. Thankfully, just a few weeks ago, Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen kindly sent us two more boxes of the matzoh ball mix!
The recipe itself is really easy. I even forgot to take pictures of the process as it was so quick to make. I commented to Nate last night that I really should make this soup more often. The prep was hardly any work at all.
The soup is basically a chicken soup. Besides chicken (I normally get some dark meat chopped up into small pieces, bones and all), you need some chunky vegetables–I find celery, carrots and onions add loads of flavor to this soup. I also like to throw in a few tomatoes in the middle of the simmer to add even more flavor to the soup. It’s really up to you. The only thing with soup is of course, time. You still need to give the soup time to develop flavors.
As for the matzoh balls, those are really easy to make as well. If you get the mix from the box, just follow the instructions given. It’s just a matter of adding some eggs and oil (more about the oil later) to the matzo meal and mixing till you get a firm dough.
The key is to leave the mix in the fridge to chill for a bit before rolling into balls. Somehow giving the dough time in the fridge leads to fluffier matzoh balls. I normally leave it in for about an hour or more depending on what I’m doing on that day. Then, about half an hour before dinner, just get the soup turned back up to high, roll the balls with damp hands and put them into the soup. A quick simmer of about 20-30 minutes and your soup is ready to go.
Now, about that oil. If you have time and are well prepared, cook your chicken soup the day before and leave it in the fridge. The oils from the chicken would then float to the top and solidify. What you do with this fat is scoop it up and reserve 2 tablespoons of it. Heat it just to melt it and add that to your matzoh meal and eggs. This chicken fat (almost-schmaltz) gives the matzoh balls more flavor then just regular vegetable oil.
Chilled, Rendered Chicken Fat
Matzoh Ball Soup Recipe
For the soup:
2-3 chicken leg quarters, chopped into small pieces
10-12 cups of water
3 large ribs celery, cut into large chunks (about 1/2 inch pieces)
2 large yellow onions, large dice
2 large or 3 medium carrots, cut into large chunks (normally I halve the bigger carrots lengthwise and then make large half moon pieces)
2-3 large tomatoes, large dice
Salt and pepper to taste, and just a dash of soy sauce for umami (trust me on this)
For the matzoh balls:
1 pack of matzoh ball mix (each box has two packs) or 1 cup matzoh meal
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp oil or chicken fat
1. Make the soup: Set the water and chicken in a large pot to boil. As the chicken is boiling, chop the rest of the vegetables, except the tomatoes, and add them to the soup. Let the soup come to a boil, skimming off the scum from the chicken. Once it’s boiled, turn it down to low to simmer.
2. Add the tomatoes to the soup after 45 minutes of simmering. Bring soup to boil again before turning down to low to simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (don’t forget to add the dash of soy sauce).
3. Prepare the matzoh meal (If you are making the soup the day before then save this step for the day you are planning to eat it). Beat the two eggs in a small bowl, then add the oil and stir to incorporate. Pour in the matzoh meal and mix well until a stiff dough is formed.
4. Cover bowl and put meal in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (a few hours is better).
5. Cook the matzoh balls–start by bringing up the heat on your soup till you get a rolling simmer.
6. Bring out the matzoh ball dough and wet your hands. Taking a small amount (depending on what size you want your balls to be–I find that I prefer them smaller so I would normally get about 20 balls total from one pack of matzoh meal), roll them into a ball and drop them into the soup. When you find your hands getting sticky, dampen with more water. Continue to roll and drop until you have used up all your dough. You might need to bring up the heat on your soup to compensate for all the cold matzoh balls going in.
7. Once the soup is at a nice brisk simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot. Let the matzoh balls simmer in the stock for about 20-30 minutes (the bigger your balls, the more time you want to give them).
8. Serve your soup, making sure to give each person 3-4 matzoh balls each. Garnish with parsley if you want.
So, if you’ve never tried this dish, I recommend it highly. It kicks up regular chicken soup to a higher level. The Jews think of this dish as a cure for sicknesses and I can understand how that would work. The world over, chicken soup seems to be the “cure-all” when one is feeling under the weather. Add some matzoh balls to that mix, and the cure becomes miraculous! Give it a go, and let me know if you agree with me. Who knows, it might end up becoming one of your top favorite things to make too!
Have you any more tips to share on making the perfect matzoh ball soup? Leave a comment!