Great homemade chicken soup with matzo balls is heaven in a bowl. This detailed recipe will show you how to make perfect matzo ball soup from scratch, with rich flavorful chicken broth and light pillowy matzo balls.
WHY DO WE EAT MATZO ON PASSOVER?
We really can’t talk about matzo ball soup without talking about Passover. Matzo ball soup is a Jewish phenomenon. It all started thousands of years ago when the Jewish people enslaved in Egypt were granted their freedom. Moses led them out of Egypt in a hurry, afraid that Pharaoh would pursue them. In their haste, there was no time to let their bread rise. Matzo is the unleavened bread that resulted.
Passover is the holiday that commemorates the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt and matzo plays a starring role. During Passover, Jews all over the world honor the memory of the exodus by foregoing any leavened foods. When flour and water mix, fermentation can occur, which in turn causes leavening.
Matzo is produced in accordance with very specific conditions that ensure no fermentation. Thus matzo, and its derivative products, are the only flour-based foods allowed during Passover.
The traditional Passover meal, or Seder, often includes matzo ball soup. I usually cook my chicken soup and matzo balls a week early because I have to make a double batch, which takes some time and effort. Plus, chicken soup and the matzo balls freeze well and I love to cross things off the long list of things I have to do to prepare for a Seder.
The next thing I’ll make is the brisket, which also freezes well. By the way, if you’re undecided about what brisket recipe to use, my long-time favorite brisket recipe ever (and I’ve tried dozens) is Nach Waxman’s brisket. And if you want to bring some exciting Indonesian flavors to the table, try this delicious Beef Rendeng Brisket.
HOW TO MAKE MATZO BALL SOUP: HOMEMADE CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZO BALLS
The first thing you want to do is get your chicken soup on the stove and simmering.
- You’ll need a large heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven.
- Add to the pot a whole chicken, 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 2 parsnips, 2 small onions, 1 turnip, 1/2 bunch parsley and 1/2 bunch dill.
- Fill the pot up almost to the top with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.
- Bring the pot to a boil over high heat and then immediately turn it down to a simmer.
If the pot looks overly full, don’t worry. As the chicken soup simmers, the greens will shrink and the water will evaporate and everything will fit in the pot nicely.
HOW TO MAKE CLEAR CHICKEN BROTH
As the chicken soup starts to simmer, you will notice some white foam floating on top of the broth. The foam, also know as scum, is denatured protein. It won’t change the taste of your soup but it will eventually break down into smaller particles that will make your soup look rather dull and cloudy.
The key to making clear chicken broth is to skim off that foam after the first ten minutes of simmering. Use a spoon and scoop out as much of the foam as you can. This step takes a bit of time but I rather enjoy it. The results are well worth the effort, beautiful clear golden broth.
Once your soup has simmered for a good two hours, it’s time to strain out all the solids. After you pour the soup through a strainer, you will have a lot of tender chicken to use for another recipe. I often use it to make BBQ Chicken Enchiladas or chicken salad.
HOW TO MAKE MATZO BALLS
Matzo balls consist of matzo meal (ground up matzo), eggs, oil or chicken fat and salt. It’s a pretty simple formula. There are differing opinions on the ideal texture of a matzo ball. Some like sinkers – dense and chewy. Some like floaters – light and fluffy. It all probably has to do with what you grew up with. I like my matzo balls somewhere in the middle – substantial, but on the light side.
TOP TIPS BEFORE YOU START
- Seltzer is my secret weapon for fluffy matzo balls. Some people mix their matzo meal with water. Some use chicken soup. I’ve tried both. Seltzer is the best, in my opinion. In a medium bowl whisk eggs and oil until combined. Add seltzer, salt and pepper. Whisk gently to combine. Slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal while stirring with a fork, until it’s fully incorporated. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Tip #2 is ice water. Dip your hands in ice water before you roll the matzo balls. If your hands are warm and dry, the dough will stick to you and you won’t be able to roll it into balls. If your hands are cold and wet, you’ll have no trouble at all.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water on the counter near the stove. Dip your hands in the ice water. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of matzo ball dough into the palm of your hand and roll it lightly into a ball. Drop the balls into the boiling water as you roll them. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook the matzo balls for 45 minutes.
How to Freeze Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls
- Matzo balls can be cooled and stored in the fridge in their salty water for 24 hours. They can also be frozen in salty water.
- Chicken soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. It also freezes really well. It will last for months in the freezer.
- To reheat: heat soup and matzo balls in separate pots. Ladle soup into bowls and then add matzo balls.
There are a good number of steps involved in making matzo ball soup. It is truly a labor of love but so worth the effort and always a star of the meal. Whenever I make it for a family occasion, the kids at the table often request seconds and thirds on matzo balls. I always make extra so I can give them some to take home.
I’m curious if most non-Jewish people have tried matzo ball soup? If it hasn’t transcended its Jewish roots, I think it should. It’s absolutely delicious and everyone should enjoy it!
Here’s the recipe for Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls. If you try this, I hope you’ll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think.Print
Matzo Ball Soup
Homemade chicken soup with fluffy matzo balls
- Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 mins
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Russian, Jewish
- 1 chicken (3 1/2 – 4 pounds) cut into 8 pieces
- 3 carrots, peeled and chunked
- 3 stalks celery with leaves, chunked
- 2 parsnips, peeled and chunked
- 2 small onions or 1 large, cut in half
- 1 medium turnip (white & purple) cut into large chunks
- 1/2 bunch parsley, rinsed
- 1/2 bunch dill, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- Matzo Balls
- 4 Eggs
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 tablespoons cold seltzer or sparkling water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2/3 cup matzo meal
- A medium bowl of ice water (for dipping hands)
- A large pot, half filled with lightly-salted water
- Salt and pepper
- Prepare the chicken soup: Put the chicken and vegetables into a large soup kettle or dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 10 cups cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered. After 10 minutes skim the white foam that rises to the surface. Continue to simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to two hours longer, until the broth is rich and concentrated.
- Remove chicken from the pot. Reserve for another use, such as bbq chicken Enchiladas or chicken salad.
- Pour the broth and vegetables through a mesh strainer, set over a large bowl or pot. The vegetables will not be needed for this recipe.
- Defat the broth either by using a spoon to skim the fat that floats on the surface or by chilling the soup in the refrigerator overnight. The chilled fat will form a solid layer on the top, which is easy to scoop off.
- Make the matzo balls: In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and oil until combined. Add the seltzer, salt and pepper. Whisk gently to combine. Slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal while whisking with a fork, until it’s fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water on the counter near the stove. Dip your hands in the ice water. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of matzo ball dough into the palm of your hand and roll lightly with wet hands. It should be about the size of a ping pong ball. (It will get much bigger when it’s cooked) Drop the ball into the boiling water. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You should have about 15-18 balls. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook the matzo balls for 45 minutes. Remove from heat. They can sit in the water as it cools.
- To Serve: Bring the chicken soup to a boil. Ladle 1-cup portions into bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add 1 or 2 matzo balls to each bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with a sprig of dill or parsley, if you like.
- Matzo balls can be cooled and stored in the fridge in their salty water for 24 hours. They can also be frozen in salty water. Chicken soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. It also freezes really well. To reheat: heat soup and matzo balls in separate pots. Serve in bowls, as above.
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