Matzo Ball Soup

I walked around on cloud nine for about two days after making this soup. I never -in a million years- could have imagined the satisfaction and confidence that homemade chicken broth serves up. You see, I grew up on ramen noodle soup. I probably ate it every single night for a solid few years. I can’t believe I’m admitting this. But I never knew that people made their own soup. And even if they did, I never dreamed that anything could taste better- about a million times better- than my ramen noodles. I certainly never dreamed that people made their own broth, from leftover roast chicken, and then proceeded to make matzo balls and drop them in. And I can still barely believe that I am now one of those people. You know, the kind that can heal even the worst of illness with homemade soup. I feel so pleased with my new skills.

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Basically, you really should make this soup. As soon as possible. It is so delicious, and brings back memories of passovers passed. I wanted to start this post by praising the warmth and deliciousness of traditional matzo ball soup. I wanted to talk about the matzo ball debate, and explain why I am on the right side. But I was so proud of myself, I just had to brag. When you make this, you will understand. It’s that good.

Homemade broth is very simple to make, but definitely a little time consuming. If you have some spare time and hopefully not when you’re not ill (although I assume this is the usual predicament) The matzo balls are firm in the center, and light and fluffy on the outside. They are the perfect combination of the rock hard balls of my past and the fluffy, feather-like balls I find in diners today.

At the time I made this, I happened to have two very demolished roasted chickens from Whole Foods that I was going to throw away. (Three words: Very. Spoiled. Dogs.) Luckily, I found this awesome roast chicken stock recipe on Leite’s Culinaria and decided to put it to good use instead. Oh, and just for the record, I am now resolved to keeping a stock bag. Which, thanks to the gracious explanations over at the Smitten Kitchen, by way of Sara Moulton, I learned was simply a bag, kept in the freezer, where you store leftover vegetables. You just keep adding mushroom stems, or onion pieces, or whatever leftovers you’ve got, until you are ready to make your broth. Such a great idea, right?

So you start with your chicken bones, making sure you remove the meat. I wanted to take a picture but I was secretly grossed out and was fearful you would be as well. But that’s probably me just being squeamish. Anyways, you throw the chicken bones in a large pot. And then chop up your veggies.

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The carrots and celery can be chopped into one or two inch pieces, as long as its consistent. The garlic, lightly smashed with the skin on. Onion, cut in quarter. Just throw all the veggies in the pot, along with peppercorn, a turkish bay leaf, and any fresh and savory herbs you’ve got.

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Add enough cold water to cover by two inches.

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Now just bring everything to a simmer over medium heat. Remove any fat that rises to the top. Schmaltz. Then reduce heat and allow to simmer for around 2 to 3 hours, or 4 to 6 for a darker, richer broth. After broth is the color you want it, or in my case, when your patience just runs out, strain the broth.

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I put my broth in a few mason jars, placing some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer for a later date.

Now, for the matzo balls. Easy. Delicious. First, lightly beat four eggs.

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Then, just add one cup of matzo meal (or ground matzo) 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, two teaspoons salt, and one teaspoon black pepper. And two tablespoons seltzer and two tablespoons chicken stock. Stir to combine.

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Cover and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes. I refrigerated them overnight, and they were delicious, so I can only encourage you to do the same. When ready, bring a pot of the stock to a boil. In the meantime, scoop out matzo mixture and roll into balls. Drop balls into the broth, reduce heat, and cook for thirty minutes.

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Matzo Ball Soup
adapted and condensed, barely, from these two amazing blogs: Smitten Kitchen and Letite’s Culinaria

Chicken bones, meat removed, from one or two roast chickens
2 onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, gently smashed
A few stalks of celery, cut into even-sized pieces
A few carrots, cut into even sized pieces
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt

4 eggs
1 cup matzo meal or ground matzo
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons seltzer
2 tablespoons chicken broth

1. Place the bones in a large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Add enough water to cover vegetables by about two inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat. Skim all of the schmaltz(fat) that rises. Cook for two hours for a light broth and up to six hours for a darker, richer broth. (I lightly simmered for four hours).
3. Strain soup, and either serve, refrigerate, or freeze.

1. While soup is cooking, lightly beat four eggs. Add matzo meal, oil, salt and pepper. Mix, and stir in chicken broth and seltzer until everything is combined.
2. Cover and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes and preferably overnight.
3. When ready to make soup, bring a pot of stock to a simmer. Form matzo ball mixture into balls using the palms of your hands or two spoons. Drop into pot of simmering broth and cook for thirty minutes.

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