After I watched my mother and grandmother make matzoh ball soup for Passover throughout the years of my childhood, I knew there would a time I would need to figure out how to make it myself. I know my mother followed the recipe on the box of Manishewitz Matzoh Meal, but she used schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead of vegetable oil. She always made the batter the night before the seder so it could set overnight, even though the recipe only required for the batter to chill for 20 minutes. Whatever my mother did in her process, her matzoh balls were consistently awesome, light, fluffy, and flavorful.
Last year, I made my first attempt at matzoh ball soup and did what my mother said. While the matzoh balls were delicious and tasted very similar to how I remembered, the consistency was too dense. This year, I decided to roll up my sleeves and try again in hopes that I would be successful. I did a lot of research on the internet and I was very excited when I found Tori Avey’s recipe for “My Favorite Chicken Soup with 3 Matzoh Ball Recipes”. Her “Floater Matzoh Ball” recipe was great because she used seasonings I liked, explained how adding baking powder makes them fluffy, was very descriptive in how intense the broth should boil before adding the matzoh balls, and she was very clear that the SECRET to fluffy balls was to keep the lid on the soup pot while they were cooking.
The night before the seder, it was time to start my stock…
Overnight veggie stock
We got a great tip from some friends to save all scraps from routine preparation of onions, peppers, potatoes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, etc. and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. This way, there are a variety of vegetables on hand anytime you want to make a stock. If you do not freeze your scraps, you can make a stock with all of the waste from the carrots, celery, and onion as you prepare your soup ingredients.
- 4 cups of veggie scraps (carrots, onions, celery, garlic, peppers, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, etc….)
- Water to fill the soup pot
- Put veggie scraps in crock pot (I used a 6.5 quart crock pot)
- Fill with water
- Set on low prior to going to bed overnight (8-10 hours)
- Drain out all solids with a cheese cloth and mesh colander
- Allow broth to cool in the soup pot until you are ready to add the matzoh ball soup ingredients
The next morning, my kitchen smelled so good from the stock simmering in the crock pot all night. After I drained all of the solids, we lost power for 2 hours which caused some delay but did not kill my schedule completely. As soon as we regained electricity, it was time to make the matzoh ball batter…
Matzo Balls (recipe inspired by Tori Avey)
- 1.5 cups matzoh meal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)
- 6 large eggs
- 6 tbsp melted schmaltz (or grape seed oil)
- In a small mixing bowl, combine matzoh meal, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper with a fork.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs and melted schmaltz. (Tip: make sure schmaltz is not too hot or it will cook the eggs)
- Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix all ingredients together with a fork until combined. Do not over-mix.
- Refrigerate the dough while the soup is cooking. Note: the original recipe says to chill the dough for 1 hour.
Once I put the matzoh ball batter into the refrigerator, it was time to put the soup on…
Chicken Soup (recipe inspired by Tori Avey, my grandma, and my mom)
I used my mother’s method of making chicken soup by throwing everything into a pot of room temperature broth and allowing everything to heat up at once. Because my family loves extra carrots in our soup, my mother always boiled a separate pot of carrots to prevent the broth from becoming too sweet.
Ingredients for soup
- 4 quarts of chicken/veggie stock or water (room temperature)
- 2 chicken breasts skin removed
- 4 chicken thighs skin removed
- 6 carrots cut in strips
- 6 celery stalks cut in strips
- 1 onion cut in larger chunks
- 1 tablespoon of salt
Herbs and spices (put into the soup in a mesh tea ball or wrapped and tied in cheese cloth):
- 3 sprigs of Thyme,
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 sprig of fresh dill
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon of peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh saffron
- Put all of the above ingredients in a large dutch oven or soup pot
- Cook soup on high until the water starts to boil
- Allow the soup to boil for 10 to 15 minutes uncovered
- Place the lid on the pot with a small opening to allow some air to vent
- Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 90 minutes
- Remove chicken and vegetables from the pot and set aside to return to the soup after the matzoh balls cook
- Bring broth to a boil on high heat
Final steps for matzoh balls:
- While broth is heating up, form chilled batter into 1 inch balls and set on plate
- After the broth starts to boil, reduce heat to medium until it reaches a gentle uniform bubbling simmer
- Gently drop matzoh balls into broth
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes – Do not touch the stove or the lid on the pot until the timer goes off
- Simmer for 30-35 minutes
To my delight, after 30-ish minutes, I opened the pot and to my delight, my balls were huge and floating! I would say they tripled in size. I took one out and was so thrilled in how tender, flavorful, and decadent it was. This year, it was just my husband, myself, and the kids at our first seder. My son and husband thought they were wonderful. My daughter… well, she tried it at least.
Finally, it is time for me to discuss the elephant in the middle of the room. I am sure many of you are thinking that it is not like me to post any recipe using chicken fat. The fact of the matter is, I only eat matzoh balls one time per year. Also, I did the math several times and figured out that 1 matzoh ball is about 103 calories and 6 grams of fat. I also cut the fat while I made the soup by removing all skin from the chicken meat.
Now that we have all of this leftover matzoh ball soup, we plan to freeze it in several containers so we can have some “Jewish Penicillin” on hand in case anyone in the family is in need of some old fashion healing. Now that I was able to successfully make matzoh ball soup on my own, I am looking forward to maybe trying different variations to make things interesting!
These 2 pictures illustrate how much the matzoh balls increased in size.