First, prepare a batch of chicken stock. The chicken soup used as a base for matzo ball soup varies from family to family, but most often I've heard the use of a light, clarified broth. In my recipe, I like to use a very hearty stock filled with gelatin - which can only be attained through hours of long simmering. This additional protein provides a wonderful mouth feel to the stock and any soups you make with it. If you don't have time to make your own stock, make sure you buy a chicken broth that you enjoy, because it is the dominant ingredient in this dish. Good chicken stock equals good matzo ball soup.
The matzo balls will need 2 matzos, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chicken stock, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil or melted schmaltz (schmaltz will produce better flavor but, for many homes, may not be readily available unless you have just made the chicken stock), and 2 large (100 g) eggs.
Matzos are unleavened bread made out of only two ingredients - Passover flour and water. Modern, machine-made matzos resemble large crackers or wafers. The matzos are unleavened (no rising agents such as yeast or even chemical leavens like baking powder) and are primarily associated with Passover, the commemoration of the Israelite exodus from captivity in Egypt. The word "Passover" refers to the passing over by the angel of death of the marked houses during the final plague visited upon the land of Egypt before Pharaoh authorized the release of the Israelites. The matzo is important as a symbol because the Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they did not have time to allow their bread to rise. In many countries, matzo is available all year, but in many places the commercial matzo found outside of the Passover season can often be non-kosher.
|Matzo meal from a food processor|
Using the blender resulted in a much finer grind, but took a bit more work initially to break down the matzos. Using two second pulses at varying speeds did the trick and within two minutes, the matzo meal was ready. Both methods will yield matzo meal that will work fine with this recipe, so use whatever appliance you have on hand. The only difference is that the coarse ground meal from the food processor may need to rest a bit longer with the liquids.
|Matzo meal from a blender|
In a mixing bowl, whisk the two eggs, two tablespoons chicken stock, and two tablespoons of fat (schmaltz or vegetable oil).
Add the 1/2 cup (60 g) matzo meal to the liquid ingredients. At this time, you should also decide how much pepper to add. I use about 1/4 teaspoon as a starting point and adjust up or down as my mood dictates. Many people say adding more pepper helps increase the supposed curative properties of matzo ball soup. I don't know if it actually helps healing, but I do know ground black pepper does help clear the sinuses and it tastes good. Stir until evenly combined.
Allow the matzo ball batter to sit while you bring two quarts (1.9 L) of chicken stock to a rolling boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat to allow a simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I make my chicken stock without salt and freeze it for storage. Later, I can season with salt for the appropriate application.)
By this point, the matzo meal has absorbed a good deal of the liquid and the batter is workable. Give it a gentle mix to make sure it is evenly combined. This is also a good time to add any extra ingredients you may want in your matzo balls (such as finely chopped green onions).
Prepare a small bowl with some water in it to keep your hands wet as you work the matzo balls into shape. Place the water bowl and the matzo ball batter near the simmering stock and begin to form matzo balls and drop them gently into the stock.
Using a tablespoon measure, scoop up about 1-1/2 tablespoons (a heaping tablespoon) of the matzo ball batter. Using wet hands, roll them into balls.
As they are formed, drop each ball into the simmering stock.
Reapply water to your hands to keep them wet and continue scooping out batter, forming balls, and dropping them into the stock. This recipe yields approximately six matzo balls.
Depending on the density of the chicken stock, the matzo balls will either drop to the bottom or float. A watery, thin stock will allow the matzo balls to sink and enables the traditional method of telling when a matzo ball is done cooking - when it floats to the surface. Since I like my stock with a lot of gelatin, my matzo balls will always float.
I belive that even if the matzo balls are considered "done", you should allow them to simmer in the stock longer to take on more flavor. So, let them simmer for at least 15 minutes from the time you dropped in the last matzo ball. By this time the matzo balls will be plump and floating (or floating even higher if you use a thick stock like I do). I also like adding a peeled carrot cut into 1-in. segments to the matzo ball soup as is simmers.
Serve into six bowls with a matzo ball each, or the into two bowls with three matzo balls if you're trying to pamper someone.}?>
Matzo Ball Soup (serves six as appetizer)
|2 large (100 g) eggs||whisk||mix||let stand||using wet hands:|
form into balls
drop into stock
|simmer >15 min.|
|2 Tbs. (30 mL) schmaltz or vegetable oil|
|2 Tbs. (30 mL) chicken stock|
|2 matzos or 1/2 cup (60 g) matzo meal||grind to meal|
|1/4 tsp. (0.5 g) ground black pepper|
|2 qts. (1.9 L) chicken stock||bring to boil||simmer|
season to taste