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Recipe File

Matzo (Matzah) Ball Soup

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Matzo ball soup (also affectionately known as "Jewish Penicillin") can be simply described as flour dumplings served in chicken soup, but when prepared properly becomes much more than the meager sum of its basic ingredients - it becomes comfort food. Depending on the recipe (or the family), the matzo balls can be solid and dense or light and almost pillowy, but the ingredients almost always remain the same: superbly prepared chicken stock, matzo (an unleavened bread) or matzo meal (ground up matzos), eggs, and a little chicken fat. This recipe can be altered to produce heavier matzo balls (with a bit more oil and a little less broth in the balls) or lighter matzo balls (by using egg whites whipped to soft peaks).

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.

After the stock has been made, simply shock it down in ice water and refrigerate overnight. The fat in the stock rises to the top and solidifies. Prior to reheating, remove the fat (sweeping with a sieve works well). This chicken fat, known as schmaltz, can be used as one of the ingredients for the matzo balls.

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
For this recipe, we need to grind up the matzos into a matzo meal (about 1/2 cup). This can be easily accomplished by sending the two matzos through a food processor fitted with the standard blade or using a blender. I did a quick experiment to see which worked better. The food processor broke down the matzos quickly, but even after a few minutes of pulsing, the matzo meal was a bit coarse.

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) eggswhiskmixlet standusing 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 mealgrind to meal
1/4 tsp. (0.5 g) ground black pepper
2 qts. (1.9 L) chicken stockbring to boilsimmer
season to taste
salt

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Written by Michael Chu
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34 comments on Matzo (Matzah) Ball Soup:(Post a comment)

On April 02, 2006 at 08:38 AM, AnneE from Paris (guest) said...
I use and abuse in winter, nothing better when you are sick

Anne
http://stationgourmande.canalblog.com


On April 02, 2006 at 10:38 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Happy Passover
Happy Passover from Oded Sharon, in Israel !

http://www.odedsharon.com


On April 03, 2006 at 02:25 AM, josephgrossberg said...
Subject: almost ...
Don't neglect the root veggies and herbs, though: http://www.joegrossberg.com/archives/001391.html


On April 03, 2006 at 02:57 PM, Deb (guest) said...
Subject: Matzo balls
My Grandma Jean's secret for perfectly fluffy matzo balls was to use some seltzer in the mix. Always fluffy, every time.

She also made her own gefilte fish from whitefish and pike.

Thanks for the Passover recipe. The vegetarian version is in Vegan with a Vengeance, from the http://www.theppk.com/. :)


On April 04, 2006 at 02:41 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I've a vegetarian, and an asthmatic, and when I had pneumonia this past winter my pulmonologist (lung disease specialist) insisted that I relax the vegetarianism a bit and eat some of my mother's matzo soup to help break up the nasty coughing. And it *works*. So yes, we can say that matzo soup really is doctor recommended!


On April 06, 2006 at 07:03 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: For your engineering side...
I believe the first serious effort to show a physiologic basis for a benefit of chicken soup was Saketkhoo et al (PMID: 359266). Much, but not all, of the benefit was available from drinking hot water. That said, matzah ball soup is much tastier.


On April 11, 2006 at 10:12 PM, DibS (guest) said...
Subject: Award winning Matzo Balls...
I first saw this in the NY Times Passover Cookbook, but it seems to have spread well beyond that. The technique works... Best I can figure, putting the batter in the freezer keeps the core from seizing up before the rest of it can cook. The Vodka, in my estimation acts as an antifreeze agent.

Whatever it is, it works WELL!

http://www.cooking.com/recipes/static/recipe6250.htm

Enjoy!


On April 15, 2006 at 12:36 AM, Amysue (guest) said...
Subject: I just made this
I just made this recipe--and it is SO delicious! However, I only have a teeny tiny food processor, so the meal was too coarse. The texture turned out to still be fluffy, though.


On May 29, 2006 at 03:29 PM, rykthia (guest) said...
Subject: No rolling for matzah balls!
I must insist on a different prep technique. In my family, we have a "no roll" rule. Matzah balls are at their best and fluffiest if you simply break of chunks and very lightly form them in your hands. It is okay to lightly pull off or barely press ragged edges back into the ball, but if you are tempted to start rolling it into a regular shape you will get a much harder matzah ball. In my opinion, the best matzah balls are extremely light and fluffy. Try it - I bet you'll like it!!

I also recommend adding large slices of carrots (slice at a >45 degree angle) that you let cook for a long time so they are as tender as the matzah balls. Sometimes I put in a little bit of greens that I chop coursely and wilt in the stock. I'm a vegetarian, so I have found starting with a good mushroom/veggie stock and adding in a little poultry seasoning (no chicken in it - just the tradditional spices used to season chicken) make this soup fantastic.

If you want to go for true delicious Jewish food, start with Charoset. That remains my favorite Passover food! Chopped apples, nuts, wine, dried fruit, sometimes a little raspberry jam - let is soak for a while and then eat it on Matzah. Delicious!! The trick for me is to keep the apples chopped very coursely (real chunks, maybe a couple mm by a couple mm), and to use a mix of granny smith (or other tart) and fuji (or other firm)


On September 17, 2006 at 09:16 PM, Wandering Jew (guest) said...
Subject: Am I the only one who /likes/ my matzo balls firm?..
In my opinion, the listed method of rolling the matzo balls is /perfect/ but then, I like them firm; the fluffy ones just don't have the heartiness for me.

The best Matzo balls, in my opinion, really do need to be made with the schmaltz, it's just not the same without it. Usually this means making the soup a day or two before, and chilling it to get the schmaltz (I also think soup is a lot better after the schmaltz has been collected; when time allows I like to refrigerate for 2 days to get as much of the fat out as possible; because the layer seems to slow the process once it forms, I remove the schmaltz twice, once after 24hours, and then again after 48, just before reheating).

As for the carrots, I'm not personally a fan; I tend to make my soup with onions, garlic, Chicken (ofcourse), and occasionally some other root veggies of choice based on availability, but I strain it out before serving. Occasionally, for a more interesting/thicker soup, I'll puree a small amount of the veggies (not all of them, I don't want a cream soup) and put them back in, sometimes with some Horseradish for an unexpected touch. This makes the soup a little thicker, but adds a great depth to the flavor; a bit of Pureed Garlic and Onion (and I'll sometimes use fresh garlic for a sharper kick, added at the last minute so it doesn't cook sweet, along with the horseradish if I use it) really livens up the soup.

Just my Two Zuzim.


On October 17, 2006 at 04:41 PM, gentile matzo fan (guest) said...
Subject: super cold-killer Mexican Matzo Soup!
Instead of using chicken soup I like to simmer the matzo balls in Sopa de Ajo -- a Mexican/Spanish garlic soup: saute 1 finely chopped onion and 1 minced head of garlic (1 HEAD, not clove) in a little olive oil until it starts to brown, then add 1 1/2 litres of stock and a few sprigs of chopped parsley. If you like you can add other veggies such as carrots at this point. Bring to a boil and drop in your matzo balls.

This combines the healing powers of garlic with the soothing comfort of matzo ball soup -- guaranteed to scare away any cold & flu bugs, as well as werewolves and vampires...and possibly other people as well. Remember to brush your teeth after having this soup. ;)


On November 14, 2006 at 10:46 PM, Ahava (guest) said...
Subject: Not my Granmum's soup...
I'm not so impressed with these matzo balls. I like them fluffy, but these turned out very heavy and a bit dry. After halving the recipe, I had to use a full three tablespoons of stock just to get the batter started. Next time, I may try adding even more stock as I suspect the dryness may be due to the fact that the matzo meal didn't absorb enough. It's a good base recipe, but could use some improvement. Regardless, I would encourage adding some veggies to the stock.


On January 04, 2007 at 05:21 AM, FJK (guest) said...
Subject: fluffy matzo balls
Some suggestions for "floaters" (as opposed to "sinkers")

1. separate eggs and beat egg whites until past foamy stage but not yet stiff and mix in with other ingredients for lighter, fluffier matzo balls.

2. handle the balls as little as possible, the more you work them, the tougher they will be. Pat gently to shape and form.

3. Try using seltzer water in the mix. I think it helps keep them fluffier.

FJK
Blog Appetit (http://www.clickblogappetit.blogspot.com)


On January 11, 2007 at 04:19 AM, Ed Warren said...
Subject: Matzo (Matzah) Ball Soup
In the early 60's I was in the March on Washington. I was so caught up in the demonstration that I failed to eat for a day or so and i found my way into DC where i had a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup. To this day that was the finest bowl of soup I ever had.
Thank you for this recipe.


On April 24, 2007 at 05:01 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: making sift matzo balls
Earlier it was mentioned to add seltzer to make your matzo balls soft and fluffy. You can also use baking soda. You just need a touch. So for those who like there balls more light and fluffy, just add seltzer or baking soda. Believe me it makes a difference.


On January 19, 2008 at 08:19 AM, tammy234 (guest) said...
Subject: Matzah Ball recipe
Wow! I have to say, the recipe for the Matzah Balls was clearly written and very precise. I've never read any recipes that is as clearly explained, visually depicted and actually educational as this recipe! I really enjoy reading about the historical background and the artistic layout of it which makes this website my bookmark choice. Good work and keep up the wonderful job.


On February 18, 2008 at 05:19 AM, Hank Stramm (guest) said...
Subject: Some Matzah Ball Soup Tips
Just wanted to throw a few things that I do on occasion to spruce up my JBS.

1.) Add a clove of pressed or very finely minced garlic to the balls along with some chopped parsley and/or fresh dill.

2.) Add a little tumeric (1/2 teaspoon) to the broth--this adds a subtle flavor and a beautiful tint to the broth.

3.) Add avocado, lime and some cilantro to make it a Mexican Matzah Ball Soup (actually this is my trademark).

Anyway, I'd have to concur that the schmaltz is essential. I never cook my balls in the broth though. I boil them and add them later--don't really have a reason why, but that's how my Granny did it.


On March 15, 2008 at 07:02 AM, Lisa (guest) said...
Subject: Slow cooking Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls
If you have the time and inclination; using a slow cooker for preparing the chicken stock is invaluable for depth of flavour.

Typically I make this for my sunday lunch, and leave to slow cook on Saturday night. I put chicken thighs (skin on\bone in) with carrots, garlic, parsley, onion and lots of pepper. Slow cook the chicken until it falls off the bones (I like it when it when the chicken meat becomes stringy) and strain the stock of it's fat, skin and bones until the stock becomes clear. (You may have to add additional h20 and boost the flavor a bit with some chicken cubes). If you have time, chilling the stock will help to remove some of the excess fats and gelatin.

When making the matzo balls, I have found small matzo balls (size of a walnut in it's shell) cook quickly and retain their fluffiness without too much handling. I've used schmaltz with olive oil and you get the nice chicken flavour without ingesting too much fat. A little scraping of nutmeg (2 scrapes) and a bit of pepper lends a mysterious flavour to the matzos that I can't describe. (It was my German friends' mother flair for making her matzos).

I tried making larger size matzos and despite the finesse of the recipe, they were tough. I think that toughness may be in part to the cooking time required for larger matzo balls. If you make smaller matzo balls, there is more of those delicious little dumplings to go around. ;-)

Enjoy!


On April 11, 2008 at 08:38 PM, Judi B (guest) said...
Subject: Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
If I may save even one person from the fate of my last year's matzo ball soup, please read on. I made a quadruple batch to feed my guests for my larger than ever seder. I made the soup early and froze it. The day before, I made the matzo balls (50 of them) and added them to the defrosted soup, now in a huge pot.

When I was about to serve, I detected a foul odor and discovered the soup had soured! Investigation with an economist helped me determine that the soup, with its heating and cooling taking especially long in such a huge pot, caused the temperature to be at the critical point where bacteria forms, for too long and too often.

The solution is to store the soup in smaller containers, so cooling takes place faster. This post may be the only good that could possibly come from my very disappointing experience.

Happy Passover, everyone!


On June 24, 2008 at 10:28 AM, Epavard (guest) said...
Subject: Schmaltz
In my neck of the woods, I am considered the Schmaltz queen. That gives me license enough to comment :-)

While the word Schmaltz translates as 'fat,' the term refers to rendered fat, not the stuff that floats to the top of chicken soup.

Rendered schmaltz is the only type that should be used in Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish cuisine, but it cannot be bought and preparation is painstaking.

To prepare schmaltz: cut up the fat that is on either side of the narrow end of the breast of the chicken (goose is more traditional, BTW). Also cut up the fattier pieces of skin in this area. The cut pieces should be approximately the size of postage stamps. You need quite a quantity of fat and skin to make even a small amount of schmaltz. I generally save up fat and skin in my freezer until I have enough to make a pot of schmaltz. Save the skin and fat by wrapping in plastic wrap in individual packets.

Place cut up fat and skin in small saucepan with one small, thinly sliced onion, 2-3 whole peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Cook on a very low flame, gently swirling the pot from time to time (do not stir), until onions and pieces of fat--the 'gribenes' or cracklings--are golden. Watch closely near the end of the cooking time, since it cooks fast at the end and can easily burn.

Pour the contents of the pot into a strainer set over a small metal bowl and let cool.

Pick out the peppercorns and bay leaf from the contents of the strainer and save the remaining gribenes in a foil packet. Refrigerate. The gribbenes are great sprinkled in minute quantities over chicken soup or chopped liver or even over green salads. They add flavor to kugels or can be added to knish fillings. Good out of hand with beer, too!

The fat in the bowl is rendered schmaltz and delicious in a variety of dishes, including matzoh balls. Keep it refrigerated or frozen, covered with plastic wrap.

Matzoh balls do not need beaten egg whites to be fluffy, but the eggs should be very well beaten. Also, matzoh meal should be added to the eggs until the mixture is not quite thick. The batter needs to rest at room temp 15 minutes, then be refrigerated for several hours before simmering in the soup.

I used 3 heaping tablespoons of schmaltz to every four eggs. I add salt and pepper according to taste, and the amount of matzoh meal will vary from bag to bag of meal. The batter should create a thin ribbon when dropped from the beaters, but after sitting gets quite thick.

Be careful how you shape them, since mishandling causes heavy duds. Wet hands and gently scoop some batter into the palm of your hand, let it gently roll against your other hand from whence it drops into the boiling soup. Let them simmer about 25 minutes, turning once.
It's an art.
Varda the Schmaltz Queen in Israel


On March 13, 2009 at 06:16 AM, Alex (guest) said...
Subject: Diggin' the Ingrediant Vs Time chart
I have been to a lot of websites looking for various recipes, and I must say that this is the first time I've seen an ingredient chart like the one on the bottom of the page. I often forget an ingredient, or add it in at the wrong time, and this is the first site I've seen lay it out so well. I may start making a chart for all my cooking extravaganzas.

Kudos =]


On April 13, 2009 at 12:56 AM, othelie (guest) said...
Subject: smaltz & more
The smaltz queen has it right. Smaltz is rendered. the stuff that floats to the top of the soup is grease. Lightly forming the balls rather than rolling them absolutely makes a difference. This is also true for small meat dumplings and meatballs. But I am convinced that the number one reason for too-heavy matzoh balls is allowing them to sit in the liquid after it cools. Convenient, yes, but that light fluffy texture is gone for good. Because we can't always get lots of people to the table at the same time, I cook the matzoh balls in water and lower it to a simmer until I can transfer it to the soup. This prevents the soup reducing down and becoming too salty.

Love your site, and the way you present your recipes. Thanks!


On April 15, 2009 at 09:03 PM, sandi said...
Subject: Turkey smaltz
After Thanksgiving, a foodie friend of mine made broth with the turkey carcass. She skimmed the resulting fat to use next morning in matzo balls. Delicious!


On April 18, 2009 at 12:55 AM, chrissa (guest) said...
Subject: cooking for engineers
I work with engineers and you are a saint for creating a site for them!! If you have tips for their dating life, let me know. I can't seem to answer their questions! LOL

http://christinasguidetocooking.blogspot.com


On August 15, 2009 at 03:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Michael Chu, your chart is excellent. Thank you.


On September 27, 2009 at 08:29 PM, Ping (guest) said...
Subject: cooling your "goldene yoich"
Never, ever cool your chicken soup quickly! It sours it, makes it cloudy...feh! After straining, let the broth cool to room temp, then refrigerate/freeze in small portions.


On October 05, 2009 at 10:35 PM, Central florida gal (guest) said...
Subject: first timer
My boss/ friend loves my cooking and has asked me to try to make Matzah ball soup for her. She is Jewish and from New York where she could buy it from any deli. Unfortunatly in Florida we do not have any good deli's and she hasnt had any for a long time. Neither her or her mother can make "floaters" so I will attempt it. All of the recipes and suggestions made by everyone on here have been very helpful. :)


On January 21, 2010 at 10:58 PM, mdinmn (guest) said...
Subject: shmaltz
the fat that separates from the chicken is schmaltz (just yiddish the word for chicken fat) it doesn't matter how it is rendered (separated), and if you live near a kosher neighbourhood, you can buy it in the deli... grease, fat,schmaltz.. it's all chicken fat, and it's all delicious and super high in cholesterol and bad for you. If this is a once a year splurge, go ahead! Otherwise olive oil is your friend.... and a little seltzer water is the key!


On July 26, 2010 at 03:13 AM, an anonymous reader said...
A bit of seltzer in the mix is key for perfect texture, and using dill stalks in the stock, and fresh dill as a garnish in the soup is crucial to getting the right flavor.


On November 05, 2010 at 05:13 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: yummy matzos
I just tried matzo ball soup for the first time last night. We had a mix of the meal in our pantry, and i thought why not lets try it... It was amazing! my son loved making the balls, and i always have homemade stock in the freezer. I am so glad this recipe is posted so i can try them from scratch. a huge hit I reccommend trying this recipe with your children!


On January 25, 2011 at 08:50 PM, Rochelle (guest) said...
Subject: Matzo Ball Soup
Your blog is terrific. The whole issue of stock, broth, soup, hey even consomme, all seem to me like they are part of a continuum, which only the excruciatingly correct quibble about. They are all good enough to call a ready to eat soup, no?

Anyway, my mother's chicken soup was truly a cure-all and this is how it differs from yours:

The meat: 1 soup chicken [as old a bird as U can find], ie. a large one
~1 lb of beef or veal bones or some short ribs or small piece of flanken
other stuff [optional] - chicken bones, necks, wings
~ 1/2 bunch each - fresh dill, fresh parsley, AND carrot greens
some edible marigold petals or [when no flowers available] turmeric
1 onion, several carrots and celery ribs [with all their leaves]
1 parsnip, 2 zucchini, optional - 1 kohlrabi or turnip or rutabaga in chunks
several cloves garlic, a 1 inch piece of ginger, a few peppercorns and allspice peppers, 2 bay leaves
3 gallons water
First simmer the meats in the water. Fish out the useable pieces before they are fully cooked. Put in all the other ingredients and keep simmering till the veggies are tender. Add salt at end of cooking. Serve with kreplach, kneidlach [matzo balls], noodles. The meat and chicken can be served covered with a sauce and baked to heat through.


On October 24, 2011 at 08:49 PM, kiki-ji (guest) said...
Subject: Tried your suggestions - great!
I added 3 minced garlic cloves and appx 1/2 to 1 teasp horseradish, not sure of the exact amount as I kept adding a bit at a time. Thanks for the suggestions, they were great additions that really added flavor to the soup. Also tried 1/2 teasp tumeric which I thought was too much... 1/4 teasp is more like it. 1/2 t made it much too yellow, and this was a double size batch of soup.


On August 14, 2012 at 01:07 AM, Sheila Yevlevsky (guest) said...
Subject: My grandmother is turning over in her GRAVE
HELLO

I am an older woman of the Jewish descent

I make this soup always, every holiday

My grandmother Gladys would never condone a boxed matzo!!!!!!!!!!!

:lol:


On November 21, 2012 at 07:12 AM, Clem (guest) said...
Subject: For lighter matzo balls
Try adding a bit of nutmeg and parsley and steam the uncooked balls in tightly covered pan simmering in soup.

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