While we are spending the majority of every day at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, I’m taking the opportunity to try new recipes. Since Passover is coming, I wanted to test my luck with matzo ball soup; and I consulted with our friend Sheila* who “opened the Mommy Encyclopedia” [with additional input from my friend Jamie, who makes her version of this soup often and whose in-laws are also Jewish].
For the soup:
- 2 chicken breasts or 4 tenders
- 32 oz chicken stock
- 3-4 carrots, sliced or shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced (½ cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 tsp dried dill
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
For the balls:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup matzo meal
- 2 tbsp broth or water
- pinch of salt
- your 2 largest pots
- small strainer
- small mixing bowl
- 1” food scooper (optional)
- small bowl like a prep bowl
- the usual measuring cups and spoons
Into one pot, place chicken, salt, pepper, and water to cover. Boil until cooked thoroughly, 10-15 minutes. Remove chicken and shred or chop. Strain any fat from the chicken water and save. To same pot, add back chicken, vegetables, stock, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and let stay until ready to serve.
In small bowl, beat eggs slightly and add oil and any fat collected; stir to combine. Add meal and salt; stir together, then add broth/water (I just spooned some out of the soup pot). Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so to allow meal to soak up liquid. Bring about 6 cups salted water to boil; have a small bowl of cold water ready to moisten hands or scooper as you form dough into 1” balls. Drop balls into water and reduce heat to medium (shake pot lightly with each ball if needed to make it float). Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and add to soup.
For my 2nd batch (the “official Passover batch”), I removed the chicken to a plate to shred and then cooked the balls directly in the broth, adding the chicken back before serving. This has the “danger” of getting bits of meal in your broth and making it cloudy, but the balls get to soak up some brothy flavor. We enjoyed both versions!
*Sheila’s [whose daughter Julie lives locally, and with whom we got to have lunch when we were in Buffalo last April] immediate response to my query was, “Do I have have a recipe for matzoh ball soup? Are you kidding? Sure!” She also shared a story of auditing a sculpture class at UB and telling a classmate she was making this soup for Passover for a group of Julie’s college friends. He asked her, “Why don’t you make your matzo balls in the shape of swans?” to which she replied, “What kind of idiot are you?” (She did, however, decide to make duck-shaped ones, which remains one of Julie’s favorite Mommy memories.)