Friday, March 5, 2010

Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken soup, there are my pre USA days and post USA days chicken soup chronicles. In my pre USA days I never cooked or seasoned with thyme. When I arrived in the US I associated thyme with Thanksgiving, turkey and all the sweet trimmings. Fresh thyme, from a thanksgiving association, it became an every day staple in my kitchen and in my chicken soup. The other ingredient that in fact Israelis love in any shape and form is leek. I sometimes add it to my chicken soup, but only to my chicken soup. I have mixed feelings about leeks, ok at the risk of offending leek aficionados, I really do not like leeks!! Don't ask me why!! I do bring myself to add it to my chicken soup, it will add a dimension even if you are not a leek person. Feel free to leave comments in defense of leeks, never know you guys might convert me?! The rest of the soup is pretty straight forward chicken soup. I do use Manischewitz matzo ball mix, our guests always think I made the matzo balls from scratch. Honestly, there is not much to making it from scratch, it's just taking the plain matzo meal as opposed to already flavored Manischewitz and adding, salt, etc. Sometimes adding baking soda to make them fluffier, but the rest of the steps are exactly the same for both. The Manischewitz really complements the chicken soup I make, it works!! I don't pack the matzo balls tight when I form them as they cook they turn light and fluffy!! I did want to discuss here kosher chickens or brined chickens but then I got into ranting (you had to see the original draft) about thyme, thanksgiving and leeks. I normally cook with organic chickens, but for this soup I use kosher chickens for it cuts back on my time brining. The soup tastes great with organic chickens but even better with kosher. I know there are kosher organic chickens out there, I have not seen them readily available. Can't fathom the cost of double certification, organic and kosher....but that is a different subject altogether! I make this soup for Passover but at times when it's a particularly wintery day, or when someone is under the weather it's nourishing and comforting. On those days when it's not Passover, serve soup with veggies and chicken and add some mini pasta, which I cook al dente separately and add to soup. Keep in mind regular pasta is not kosher for Passover!!

Chicken Soup
Ingredients:
4lbs plus chicken drumsticks and wings (skinned)
you can also add instead or in addition chicken necks and bones
3-4  carrots, peeled and cuts in chunks
3-4 ribs celery and leaves, chopped roughly
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
2 leeks, white parts only (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves
Bunch of parsley
Few springs of thyme
2 bay leaves (optional)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
Add chicken and the rest of the ingredients to a stock pot and cover with water about 2-3 inches above.  Bring to a boil and reduce to medium/low and cook for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until color of soup is deep golden. The liquid will reduce considerably. Skim the top as you go along. Strain through a sieve for a beautifully clear rich golden chicken broth.

Matzo Ball Mix
Ingredients:
(makes about 10-12 matzo balls)
Manischewitz matzo ball mix and according to instruction on box add:
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola
Chicken soup broth from above
Directions:
Beat eggs lightly with a fork.  Add canola oil and mix quickly.  Add one packet of matzo ball mixture and stir with a fork. Cover and let sit if the fridge for 20 min. (says 15 min on box, but I always let it sit in refrigerator longer, you can step out of the house run errands and come back couple of hours later, that is fine too).  Bring the chicken broth to a boil and turn down to medium low simmer.  Wet hands with cold water and form small round matzo balls lightly packed, but nicely roundly shaped.  Drop formed matzo balls into soup.  Let fluff and cook, then with the back of a tablespoon tap the top of each matzo ball, and they will flip to the other side (nice little trick and it does not bruise the consistency of the round shaped matzo balls by using the smooth back side of the tablespoon).  Let cook for a bit longer.  You will see the matzo balls are light and airy.  Turn off heat and let matzo balls sit in hot broth for a little while, relax and expand some more. Prior to serving heat up soup and serve.  Soup and matzo balls can be made a day ahead.

12 comments :

  1. to my palate, I prefer matzo balls that ARE NOT perfect.

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  2. I never use Matzo Ball mix from a box. Too many ingredients that should not be in a soup made with love.
    http://www.wildriverreview.com/wrratlarge/?p=2378 from Russia, Via NJ... with love.

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  3. Just by nature they can't be perfectly round, but when served at the table I don't like bits of matzo balls floating around, I like the beautiful deep golden color of the soup pure and clear!! until....I break them to pieces...

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  4. Agreed about food from a box!! Thanks for sharing your Matzo Ball recipe, for those of my readers who are interested in making them from scratch, it's easy, do not despair!! Warren, you might have same issue with the plain matzo meal though, depending which brand you use unless you make your matzos from scratch and grind it to a meal?! I am leading mostly organic lifestyle but have my lapses too. Sometimes old habits die hard!!

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  5. Thought about it some more, I still like my matzo balls close to perfect and my soup NOT muddled. I can taste each ingredient and choose to combine with intent!!

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  6. Jenn said...
    These photos are SO beautiful.

    February 24, 2010 11:56 AM

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  7. Thannks Jenn!! Check out Jenn's site http://deptoftheinteriordc.blogspot.com/

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  8. Love matzo ball, but never made it from scratch. Usually just buy a boxed mix and add fresh vegetables.

    Try sauteing leeks in butter: very slowly: and add on top of pizza.

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  9. Oh Olga, maybe this year you'll start a new tradition? Let me know if you attempt to make chicken soup from scratch? Thanks for the leek suggestion:)

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  10. You know I have NEVER made matzo ball soup. even after i had my daughter for 2 years in a Jewish nursery school. I would like mine perfect too, round and beautiful in a pretty looking soup (saying that since I have never made one and dreaming of perfection) :-) Looks beautiful.

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  11. Aww thank you Soma. It's really simple, one dish soup pretty much, even if you make your dumplings (matzo balls) from scratch!! try it you won't regret it!

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  12. Shulie, I love leeks, but agree with you. I like my matzo balls as close to perfect as I can get them. I weigh and form and chill for two hours to keep the shape. I make my own with matzo, no mix. This might be where I take that chicken soup today. Cheers.

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