Oh, the yummy home-made goodness of matzo ball soup! Have you ever had the pleasure of enjoying this chicken dumpling soup? This is a staple at any Jewish holiday and known as Jewish comfort food! I make this hearty soup from scratch every Passover with matzo meal, formed into little balls that are dropped into the broth. Done correctly, the balls will sink, then float to the top. It’s kind of fun to watch with your kids. However, I will tell you—the floaters versus sinkers result is all about ratio!
I am not Jewish, but I love to celebrate the Lord’s feasts. There is so much to learn; your faith will deepen when you learn of the perseverance and faithfulness of the Jewish people. As you know, Passover is the time when Jews have a special dinner called a Seder and remember what God did to save His people from slavery in Egypt (read Exodus 12). I encourage you to read this story to your family and remember the times when God has been faithful to your family. Maybe you’ll even host your own Seder dinner!
There are ways to cut corners with this recipe, especially if you don’t care if it is Kosher or not. For example, you can use store-bought chicken stock or a Rotisserie chicken. However, I love to challenge myself and make it as authentic as possible. Besides, homemade broth is super easy, cost-effective, and GOOD for you! I do use the boxed variety of matzo meal, but I alter the box instructions with the recipe below.
Matzo Ball Soup
By: Rae-Ellen Sanders
One whole chicken, about 5 lbs (giblets removed)
1⁄2 pound carrots or 3 large carrots, washed and cut in large pieces
1⁄4 pound celery or 3 ribs washed and cut in large pieces
1 large onion, quartered
5 garlic cloves, minced
10 peppercorns smashed or 2 tsp. Ground black pepper
parsley (a few fresh sprigs)
dill (a few fresh sprigs)
thyme (a few fresh sprigs)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
5 quarts of water
- Using a 10 cup stockpot, add whole chicken, carrots, celery, onion, and herbs. Pour in the water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then turn it down to simmer.
- As it works its way to a boil, you’ll see the water get cloudy and accumulate at the top. Skim this off occasionally.
- After an hour on simmer, check the chicken by jiggling its leg. The bone should remove easily and be completely cooked. Take the chicken out of the pot carefully with tongs and place on a large plate to cool. Once cool, shred the meat off the carcass and save to use later. Return the carcass to the pot of broth.
- Continue to simmer the broth on the stovetop for another hour.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool down. Strain through a fine-mesh colander, to collect all remaining bones, etc. then discard. Optionally, strain out and save the carrots and celery and chop into small bits to add back to the broth at the final step.
- Refrigerate the broth so that the fat solidifies on top. Skim off this “schmaltz” to use in the matzo balls.
- The chicken stock will also be used to boil/cook the matzo balls and then used as the base of the soup.
4 tablespoons of fat (called schmaltz, the fat you skim off the top when chilled/coagulated)
1/4 cup plain seltzer water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup Manischewitz matzo meal or Knorr matzo ball mix
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dill seasoning
8 cups of chicken broth
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients—baking powder, prepared matzo meal, peppers, salt, and dill seasoning.
- In a medium-sized bowl, vigorously whisk eggs.
- Add the chicken fat (schmaltz) and seltzer to eggs and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend well. Be sure to season your matzo balls well. Add a little garlic salt if needed.
- Refrigerate until the batter becomes thick—up to a few hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook your matzo balls, bring your stock to a boil.
- While the stock is coming to a boil, roll the matzo balls into 2-inch balls. Little hands always like to help at this stage. It is best to use dampened hands and have a tray lined with parchment paper ready. Make sure the balls are cold and not too sticky. Don’t drop if they are room temperature. If needed, place back into the fridge.
- Once the stock is boiling, reduce it to low heat and drop the matzo balls in, one at a time. Do not crowd because they will expand. Cook in two batches if needed.
- The balls will drop to the bottom when you drop them into the soup pot. But they quickly bounce back up where they will continue to cook COVERED for about 40-50 minutes.
- If you undercook them, they’ll be a bit dense. Check to see if they are cooked through by slicing a matzo ball in half.
When you’re ready to serve, place some re-heated shredded chicken in each bowl. Place the balls in the bowl, and then ladle hot soup with optional added-back diced carrots, celery, and onions on top. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley on your golden creation and enjoy!