Passover Matzoh-Ball Soup
- ACTIVE: 1 HR
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
- SERVINGS: 8 to 10 servings
For 40 years I looked high and low for the best matzoh ball recipe, but nothing measured up to my grandmother’s until I discovered Susan’s, an old family friend. After a Passover seder at her house 20 years ago, I begged for this recipe and finally she gave it to me. It’s the perfect balance for a matzoh ball: light enough to float, dense enough to be a good “sinker.” I can now die in peace knowing I have achieved what every Jewish man should for his family: a roof over their heads and a nice chicken-soup-and-matzoh-ball recipe. We eat this meal year-round, and we call it chicken-in-the-pot. When I make it as a main course, I serve the chicken in sixths with the skin and bone. I will often add kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) or noodles and leave the vegetables in bigger pieces so the dish is more like a poulet pot au feu than a first course for Passover seder. For the uninformed, the seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is held at sundown on the 14th day of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar and on the 15th by observant Jews living outside Israel. That means late March or April for most of us. The meal involves a retelling of the liberation of the Israelites from their bondage in ancient Egypt. It’s basically Thanksgiving for Jews, and it’s my favorite holiday of the year.—Andrew Zimmern
- 2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- One 3-pound chicken
- 1 1/4 cups matzoh meal
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 5 large eggs, 3 separated
- 1/4 cup melted chicken fat (schmaltz) or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for forming the matzoh balls
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 large dill sprigs
- 4 large parsley sprigs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- MAKE THE CHICKEN SOUP In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Add the chicken and return the stock just to a simmer. Cover the chicken with a small plate to keep it submerged and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to maintain a very low simmer; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken and let cool slightly, then shred the meat; discard the skin and bones. Strain the soup into a heatproof bowl. Skim off the fat and return the soup to the pot.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE MATZOH BALLS In a large bowl, combine the matzoh meal, salt, garlic, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs with the 3 yolks, schmaltz and onion. In a separate bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir the schmaltz mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in one-third of the beaten egg whites until incorporated. Gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the batter and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or overnight, until firm.
- Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of water. Scoop 1-tablespoon-size mounds of the matzoh batter onto the baking sheet. Using the oil-and-water mixture to keep your hands moist, roll each scoop of batter into a ball, handling them as gently as possible.
- Return the chicken soup to a simmer. Add the carrot, celery, onion, rutabaga, dill and parsley and season with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the matzoh balls. Cover and cook over moderate heat, turning the matzoh balls a few times, until they are plump and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Stir the shredded chicken into the soup and cook just until the meat is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
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