Matzo Ball Soup is famous outside its ethnic origins as an Ashkenazi Jewish soup, and beloved by everyone I know who has ever eaten a good one, myself included. Whenever I am in New York I stop in either at Carnegie Deli in Manhattan or at Katz’s on the lower East Side for a bowl of matzo ball soup.
In its simplest form it consists of round dumplings made from matzo meal (ground matzos) eggs and oil (traditionally chicken fat), which are cooked in rich, golden chicken broth. The broth must be homemade, and it must be great.
Although matzos are unleavened cracker-like breads eaten at Passover, matzos are made from wheat flour. Until recently our family could not have any matzo balls to cook in my great homemade chicken broth. But now Streit’s has developed a gluten-free Matzo Ball & Soup Mix. I tried it and the matzo ball mix is great but, no disrespect, the soup mix doesn’t come close to my chicken broth. I make my own Chicken Broth and Chicken (a recipe that gives me broth for soup and chicken for later), mix the Streit’s matzo balls and cook them in my soup. I save the package of soup mix that comes in every box and use it, by the tablespoonsful, to enrich homemade vegetable soups, and add flavor to homemade dip mixes.
When making the matzo balls every cook walks a fine line between producing “floaters” and “sinkers.” Floaters, as the name suggests, are light matzo balls that float to the surface as they cook and have a light, even fluffy, interior. Sinkers cook near the bottom and are more or less dense, even though sinkers have their own following. I am happy to say that my Streit’s matzo balls were floaters, and yours can be too if you follow these tips:
- Mix the meal, eggs and oil just until thoroughly moistened; do not over mix.
- Let the mixture rest 15 to 20 minutes.
- Use a cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoons level) to scoop up the dough.
- Moisten your hands with water and roll into a ball between cupped palms.
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 envelope Matzo mix from 1 (4.5-ounce package) Streit’s Gluten-Free Matzo Ball & Soup Mix
- 6 cups Chicken Broth (recipe follows)
- Parsley, as needed, for garnish, optional
- In a medium bowl beat eggs with oil until smooth. Add contents of Matzo mix and stir just until completely moistened. Do not over mix. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile in an 8-quart pot with a wide surface area, over medium-high heat, bring broth to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and let simmer.
- Divide reserved matzo dough into 10 equal portions (scoop with a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop works well).
- Moisten hands and roll each portion into a walnut-size ball. Place on parchment paper. Repeat until all dough is used.
- Lower matzo balls into simmering broth using a spoon. Cover and let simmer briskly for 30 minutes.
- Serve 2 matzo balls per person with broth. Garnish, if desired, with parsley.
Although it may seem extra work to make chicken broth, when I have any time I always prepare the following recipe because it gives me about 6 quarts of broth to freeze for later use and the bonus of moist, juicy cooked chicken meat for casseroles, sandwiches, salads, soups and pasta. It takes less than 20 minutes to assemble, and it really cooks itself.
Chicken Broth and Chicken
Makes 5 to 6 quarts broth and meat from 1 whole chicken
1 (5 to 6-pound) young chicken
4 pounds chicken backs or wings or a combination of both
1 large carrot scrubbed, not peeled, halved
1 large onion washed, ends trimmed, but not peeled, halved
1 handful curly parsley
1 handful flat leaf parsley
1 celery stalk, washed, halved
5 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
Place all ingredients in a 12-quart pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours.
Cool pot in an ice water bath. Remove chicken parts and vegetables with tongs and discard. Ladle broth into an 8-quart bowl through a sieve. Remove chicken into a colander set in a bowl to catch any broth.
Ladle broth into 1- and 2-quart containers with lids. Refrigerate overnight.
Skin and debone chicken. Discard skin and bones. Store chicken in airtight containers. Refrigerate or freeze.
The following day, remove all surface fat from chicken stock. Refrigerate as much as needed for immediate use. Freeze the rest in 1-quart containers.
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