Matzo Ball Soup

One of my favorite parts of learning to cook is having the chance to learn about cultures through different foods. I love paging through cookbooks that contain recipes I’ve never tried and learning something about the history and tradition behind these recipes. In preparation for Passover, I was sent a copy of The New Jewish Table, written by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray of Washington D.C.’s Equinox Restaurant. The cookbook takes traditional Jewish recipes and turns them into beautiful modern dishes.

Matzo Ball Soup

The cookbook is filled with a ton of re-imagined comfort foods, and is broken into seasons to make the most of seasonally available product. The last few pages of the book also has suggested menus for Jewish holidays. I hope to cook through the Passover menu over the coming days because it all sounds so delicious (besides the gefilte fish, sorry haha.)

 

The Grays’ have filled the cookbook with personal stories and notes throughout that give a family feel and a background to their traditions which is a really nice touch. Each recipe is also labeled by type of recipe to make it easy to keep kosher: dairy, meat, parve, or mixed. Todd Gray’s childhood traditions are also present throughout the cookbook and include a few nods to traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. (I particularly liked these recipes because, well, what is more comforting that food from the Pennsylvania Dutch?)

 

The New Jewish Table

This cookbook almost reads like a memory book and is filled with wonderful stories, photographs, and obviously recipes. The New Jewish Table would be great for someone who is interested in learning about Jewish traditions through food and those who have grown up with these traditions and are looking for a fresh update to their family favorites.

 

I decided to make the recipe on the cover, called “Not Exactly Aunt Lil’s Matzo Ball Soup.” The recipe is a more polished version of Ellen Kassoff Gray’s Great Aunt’s soup. It has noodles in it, but to make it for Passover, this version below has omitted them. Todd Gray’s spin on this traditional recipe turns a comforting dish into a truly beautiful dish. I altered the dish very slightly, but my version is below. To see the original recipe, be sure to pick up a copy of this cookbook.

Matzo Ball Soup

This recipe falls into the “meat” category. It is also appropriate for Passover.

 

Ingredients:

Caramelized Shallots:

  • 2 cups chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Matzo Balls:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup club soda
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1/2 cup chopped Caramelized Onions (above)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup:

  • One 3-pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quarterd
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and blotted dry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Garnish:

  • 2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely diced turnips
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions, both green and white parts

You can make the caramelized shallots ahead of time if you’d like. To make, chop the shallots. Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the shallots and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cooking for 4 minutes.

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Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the shallots, stirring often, until they turn amber in color, 20 to 30 minutes.Drain in a colander and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. They can be stored for up to 4 days.

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To make the matzo balls, whisk together the eggs and melted margarine in a large bowl.

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Add the club soda and whisk to combine.(It gets kind of frothy)

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Whisk in the matzo meal.

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Switch to using a spatula and add the caramelized shallots, salt, and pepper.

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Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Place the chicken pieces in a large pot that can comfortably hold it. Add the onion, celery, carrots, turnips, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, and salt.

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Pour in enough water to cover the chicken pieces.

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Bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

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When there is about 1 hour left on the timer, remove the matzo mixture from the refrigerator. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Spoon two or three ladles of the soup into the pot of water for added flavor. Shape the matzo dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, rolled them between your palms (moisten your hands with a touch of water first). Note: I really stink at knowing what 1 1/2 inches in diameter is. I ended up making 6 rather large matzo balls. Feel free to make as many or as few as you’d like. You’ll just cook them longer if larger and shorter if smaller.

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Add the matzo balls to the boiling water, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

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Use a slotted spoon and transfer the matzo balls to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain.

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To finish the soup, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool. This may prove kind of difficult, the chicken is very tender and may pull apart. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large bowl and discard the vegetables. Add the broth back into the pot and keep warm over low heat. Pull the chicken from the bones and shred with your hands. Discard the bones. Chop your carrots, celery, and turnips.

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Add the diced carrots, celery, and turnips to the broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the chicken meat and stir to combine. If you are making this not for Passover, you can add pasta when you add the chicken and cook until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes.

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To serve, divide the matzo balls equally between 6 bowls. Add a generous spoonful of vegetables and chicken and then ladle in the broth to fill the bowls. Sprinkle with scallions.

Matzo Ball Soup

So this is quite a labor intensive recipe. But it was totally worth it! The broth is so tasty, so much better than anything you can buy in a store. At first I didn’t think I’d like adding in new, finer chopped vegetables later in the process, but it kept the carrots, turnips, and celery from becoming overly soft. The matzo balls were fantastic! I always crave matzo ball soup when I’m sick and I am just so happy to have a large batch of this in my freezer for a rainy day.

Matzo Ball Soup

 

Matzo Ball Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Poultry, Soups/Stews, Make Ahead
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
Caramelized Shallots:
  • 2 cups chopped shallots
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
Matzo Balls:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup club soda
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • ½ cup chopped Caramelized Onions (above)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Soup:
  • One 3-pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quarterd
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and blotted dry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Garnish:
  • 2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely diced turnips
  • ½ cup sliced scallions, both green and white parts
Instructions
  1. You can make the caramelized shallots ahead of time if you’d like. To make, chop the shallots. Heat ¼ cup canola oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the shallots and ¼ teaspoon salt, cooking for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the shallots, stirring often, until they turn amber in color, 20 to 30 minutes.Drain in a colander and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. They can be stored for up to 4 days.
  2. To make the matzo balls, whisk together the eggs and melted margarine in a large bowl. Add the club soda and whisk to combine.(It gets kind of frothy). Whisk in the matzo meal. Switch to using a spatula and add the caramelized shallots, salt, and pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Place the chicken pieces in a large pot that can comfortably hold it. Add the onion, celery, carrots, turnips, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, and salt. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
  4. When there is about 1 hour left on the timer, remove the matzo mixture from the refrigerator. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Spoon two or three ladles of the soup into the pot of water for added flavor. Shape the matzo dough into balls about 1½ inches in diameter, rolled them between your palms (moisten your hands with a touch of water first). Add the matzo balls to the boiling water, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the matzo balls to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain.
  5. To finish the soup, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool. This may prove kind of difficult, the chicken is very tender and may pull apart. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large bowl and discard the vegetables. Add the broth back into the pot and keep warm over low heat. Pull the chicken from the bones and shred with your hands. Discard the bones. Chop your carrots, celery, and turnips.Add the diced carrots, celery, and turnips to the broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken meat and stir to combine. If you are making this not for Passover, you can add pasta when you add the chicken and cook until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes.
  6. To serve, divide the matzo balls equally between 6 bowls. Add a generous spoonful of vegetables and chicken and then ladle in the broth to fill the bowls. Sprinkle with scallions.

 

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Comments

Matzo Ball Soup — 3 Comments

  1. What perfect matzo ball soup! My Catholic mom would make this for our family every now and then, and now I have a big craving for a piping hot bowl with a giant matzo ball. Thanks for sharing~

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