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
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/. :)
Whatever it is, it works WELL!
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)
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.
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. ;)
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.
Thank you for this recipe.
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.
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. ;-)
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!
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
Love your site, and the way you present your recipes. Thanks!
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.
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!!!!!!!!!!!
I use a small ice cream spoon to drop the balls in the simmering soup (I remove most of the vegetables, but they could be added back in the end.I bake them in this soup for 10 min, with a lid slightly covering the pot. The balls pop up, double in size...they are good in chicken soup