This post is more about the matzo balls and less about the soup. I make a decent chicken soup. I fill a heavy kettle with about 6 to 8 cups of water and add a whole chicken cut up, several carrots, stalks of celery and a large sweet onion. And salt of course. I bring the pot to a boil, skim the top occasionally, and simmer for a couple of hours. I take the breast piece out after about 30 minutes and set that meat aside to add back to the soup before serving.
My mother-in-law made the most beautiful chicken soup. Her broth was a perfect golden color and was so clear. It was amazing. I wish I had pictures of her chicken soup. Maybe it was the Kosher chickens she used. Maybe it was because she’d been cooking it up 70 plus years and practice makes perfect. (She lived to nearly 102.) I wish I had paid more attention. I wish I had learned how to make her chicken soup. I wish I had learned her matzo ball recipe as well. They were light and airy and took on the flavor of the broth.
It’s all about the matzo ball. When my sister-in-law calls me, a picture of a giant matzo ball from a Jewish deli in the Chicago area comes up on my phone.
Matzo is an unleavened bread, much like a cracker, traditionally eaten during the Jewish celebration of Passover. Matzo meal is made by finely grinding the matzo bread into a breadcrumb consistency. And matzo balls are made using matzo meal.
1 1/4 cups matzo meal
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs, 3 separated
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1/4 cup schmaltz melted
Separate three of the eggs and whisk together two whole eggs and three egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until peaks form and set aside. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolk mixture, broth, and melted schmaltz to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Stir in about 1/2 of the egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until the whites are no longer visible.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Scoop up about a tablespoon of the matzo and gently form into balls. Do not overhandle. If you find the matzo sticking to your fingers dip your fingers into a bowl of water with a little canola or olive oil. This recipe makes 12-14 matzo balls.
Bring your broth to a boil and gently drop in the matzo balls, Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Serve with broth and enjoy! It’s all about the matzo ball.
NOTE: Schmaltz is chicken fat. My daughter brought some to use on our turkey when she came from Chicago for Thanksgiving. There was leftover schmaltz so I used my cookie scoop, made schmaltz balls and froze them. You can google schmaltz and make your own if you don’t have a deli nearby that carries it. Or you can substitute canola oil in this recipe.
If your parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle makes a dish that you adore eating, pay attention. Ask them to show you how to make it. Write it down. Make a video. They will be so proud and happy that you asked. And one day, when they are no longer with us, you will be able to replicate that favorite dish.