Thursday, April 16, 2009

Matzah Ball Soup

I'm behind in posting and have quite a backlog of recipes to add. I had hoped to put them in chronologically based on when I tried them out, but alas, that is not to be. There was a specific request for this recipe, so it comes first. And no, asking for the Cheesy Corn recipe will not hasten its appearance here. You know the rules.

Anyway, I made this soup for my Passover seder. I hadn't done my own matzah balls in a very long time or possibly ever. If I have, I think they were from a mix. Not that a mix is much of anything other than matzah meal. Regardless, I went all out on this one and did my own broth and matzah balls. It went over smashingly and I even made a second batch a few days later to use up leftover ingredients.

The glory of this recipe is that it can be tailored very easily to your specific tastes. Don't like celery but love carrots? Leave the celery out and add more carrots instead. Can't find a parsnip but have a turnip? Switch it out. Also, you can make this chicken broth and use it for all sorts of other soups or cook it down and use it as chicken stock.

Matzah Ball Soup

For the Chicken Broth:


1 whole (3-4 pounds) fresh chicken
1 large parsnip quartered
2 leeks (white part only) cleaned thoroughly and quartered
1 small rutabaga quartered
3 ribs of celery with leaves halved
10 parsley stems
2 large carrots quartered
2 large onions quartered
8 peppercorns crushed
½ tsp dried thyme
Kosher or coarse salt
Salt and pepper to taste

1- Clean the chicken and discard giblets or other items in the cavity. Salt the entire chicken inside and out liberally with kosher or coarse salt. Let chicken stand for 35 minutes.
2- Wash salt from chicken and place in a large stockpot. Cover chicken with parsnip, leeks, rutabaga, celery, parsley, carrots, onions, peppercorns and thyme. Cover with 4 or 5 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, occasionally skimming the foam from the top.
3- Remove the chicken to a large platter when it is still firm and not falling apart. Remove the meat from the chicken and save for other use or to put back in the soup later. Return the bones to the pot and simmer for one more hour.
4- Strain the soup into a large bowl and discard everything in the strainer. Refrigerate long enough to allow hardened fat to form on surface, then simply remove the fat setting it aside. Bring back up to heat with salt and pepper to taste.
5- For deeper flavor, you can repeat the process with another round of vegetables. If additional broth is needed, you may add more water and then the vegetables. Simmer for 2 hours or until the broth has the desired taste.

For the Matzah Balls:


4 eggs
½ cup club soda
3 Tbsp vegetable oil or reserved chicken fat from broth
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup matzah meal

1- Whisk the eggs until blended. Add the club soda, vegetable oil or fat, salt and pepper. Blend in the parsley and matzah meal. Cover and refrigerate this mixture for about 1 hour.
2- Bring about 5 quarts of water to boil. Rub vegetable oil on hands and form matzah balls with about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of mixture (makes about 12-15). Drop in boiling water and simmer covered about 35 to 45 minutes depending on desired consistency.
3- Serve in chicken broth. You can cook the matzah balls in the chicken broth for either the last 15 minutes of cooking or for an additional 15 minutes depending on the size of the matzah balls and preferred texture.