“For children (and arguably most adults), the most welcome Passover dish is chicken soup with matzo balls. My matzo balls, neither heavy as lead nor light as a feather, are al dente, infused with fresh ginger and nutmeg. I like to freeze them, and the soup, in advance,” says Joan Nathan of this classic dish. Her matzo balls then make their way into a chicken soup made with a good deal of root vegetables, and perfect for a comforting meal any time of year.
Note that both the raw matzo ball mixture and the cooked chicken soup need to chill for at least 3 hours (and up to overnight), so make sure to plan ahead accordingly.
Ingredients for Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
For the Soup:
- 4 quarts water
- 1 large
- 2 onions unpeeled
- 4 Parsnips peeled, left whole
- 1 parsley root (optional)
- ½ cup celery leaves chopped + 2 stalks celery with leaves
- 1 rutabaga peeled and quartered
- 1 turnips large, peeled and quartered
- 1 Kohlrabi quartered (optional)
- 6 carrots peeled and left whole
- 6 tablespoons parsley fresh, chopped
- 6 tablespoons dill snipped
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 zucchinis
For the Matzo Balls:
- 4 eggs large
- ¼ cup schmaltz or coconut or vegetable oil (kosher for Passover)
- ¼ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 cup matzo meal
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1-2 tablespoons ginger fresh, grated
- 2 tablespoons dill or cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon Salt + more for cooking, less if you don't like it salty
- black pepper freshly ground, to taste
Prepare the Soup:
1. Place the water and chicken in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the froth.
2. Add the onions, parsnips, parsley root, celery, ¾ of the rutabaga, turnip, kohlrabi, 4 of the carrots, the parsley, 4 tablespoons of the dill, and the salt and pepper. Cover and season for 2½ hours, adjusting the seasoning to taste.
3. Strain, remove the chicken, discard the vegetables and refrigerate the liquid to solidify. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and cut into bite-sized chunks. Refrigerate. Remove the fat from the soup.
Prepare the Matzo Balls:
4. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, schmaltz, stock, matzo meal, nutmeg, ginger and parsley. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gently mix with a whisk or spoon. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours or overnight.
5. To shape and cook the matzo balls, fill a wide, deep pan with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. With wet hands, take some of the mix and mold it into the size and shape of a Ping-Pong ball. Gently drop it into the boiling water, repeating until all the mix is used. (You should get about 15 matzo balls)
6. Cover the pan, reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook matzo balls about 30 to 40 minutes for al dente, longer for light. If making ahead, the matzo balls may be placed on a baking sheet and frozen, then transferred to a freezer bag and kept frozen until a few hours before serving.
Reheat and Serve:
7. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Bring to a boil. Cut the zucchini and the remaining 2 carrots into thin strips and add to the soup along with the remaining rutabaga, cut into thin strips, as well as a few pieces of chicken. If serving with frozen matzo balls, add them at this point as well, if the matzo balls are freshly made, you may add them at the end, once the vegetables are ready. Simmer about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked, but still firm. Serve with the remaining snipped dill.
A few tips from Joan:
- Make a chicken salad with the left over chicken.
- If you want a lighter-colored broth, peel the onions and remove the chicken as soon as the water boils. Throw out the water, add new water, add the chicken again with the remaining ingredients, and proceed as above.