Friday, April 6, 2012

Matzo ball soup, harbinger of spring

It wouldn’t be spring without Passover and it wouldn’t be Passover without matzo ball soup.

When I make chicken soup in the fall and winter I often use sage because I love that Thanksgiving-y flavor. But for Passover, I like the fresh, springtime taste of dill or parsley.

I use matzo ball mix and you should, too. Life is too short to reinvent the wheel and our friends at Manichewitz do a nice job. Why rob them of the pleasure?

Serves: 8


1 organic chicken, 3-4 lbs.
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 medium yellow onions
1 bunch of carrots
a few stalks of celery, chopped
a small bunch of fresh dill or parsley
1 box of matzo ball mix (a box usually has 2 packets and each packet makes 8-10 matzo balls)
eggs, oil and whatever else is called for on the matzo ball mix box


The soup:

1. Roast the chicken in a preheated 500-degree oven until done and brown, about 55 minutes. Baste often with chicken broth and juices. Cool.
2. After the chicken is cooled, pull all the meat off the bones and into pieces with your fingers and save in the fridge.
3. Put the chicken carcass in the biggest pot you have and cover it with cold water.
4. Add 1 1/2 onions, peeled and cut in half, all the garlic and 1 carrot peeled and halved.
5. Simmer covered on the stove for 4-5 hours, adding water if it simmers away. Remove the carcass and vegetables. Let cool and skim off the fat. Discard the fat, but first, spread a little on a piece of matzo, sprinkled with salt and have some schmaltz, a key Jewish comfort food.
6. Chop the remaining half onion, peel and slice the rest of the carrots and simmer in the soup for 5 minutes.
7. Add the celery and simmer another 5 minutes.
8. Salt and pepper to taste. Done.

The matzo balls:

1. Prepare the matzo ball mix according to the package directions. Refrigerate.
2. Put a big pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Don’t oversalt the water. It should be about as salty as soup. 
3. After the matzo ball mixture is well chilled, with wet hands, roll small matzo balls – about 1” around – and drop into the boiling water.
4. Keep the water at a low boil and drop in small matzo balls until the top surface is crammed with little matzo balls – about 15 or 20.
5. Cover, and cook the matzo balls per the package instructions, about 20 minutes.
6. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a large dish, and cook the remaining matzo balls the same way, in batches.

Plating the soup:

1. In each bowl, place a couple of matzo balls and a few small pieces of chicken. 
2. Ladle hot soup over the lot and sprinkle with fresh chopped dill or parsley.
3. Good yontiff!

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