If I had to list my Top 5 favorite foods, matzo ball soup is high on that list. It is my ultimate comfort food. When I am sick, I want matzo ball soup. When I am happy, I want matzo ball soup. When I am grumpy, I want matzo ball soup. You get the idea. When my oldest son was born, my mom came to stay with us for a few days and she offered to make me anything that I wanted. Anything at all. Matzo ball soup is what I wanted. And lemon bars.
I have to admit, sometimes I cheat. Sometimes I use a boxed chicken stock. Sometimes I use a matzo ball mix. Sometimes I make the whole thing from scratch. It really depends on how badly I need to have matzo ball soup. Is made from scratch matzo ball soup to die for? Yes, it truly is. But you know what? So is matzo ball soup made with boxed chicken broth. Same goes for matzo ball soup with matzo balls made from a mix. If you have time to make the whole thing from scratch, awesome. If not, do not sweat it. It will still be comforting and delicious.
That being said, this a hybrid recipe. I made my own chicken stock, but my grocery store did not have matzo meal. I did not feel like going to another store, so I bought a matzo ball mix and doctored them a bit by adding parsley. Chicken stock is so easy to make. It is a really good way to clean out your veggie drawer. I like to make a lot so that I have enough to make soup another time. I keep it in my freezer until I need it.
People are very opinionated about matzo balls. I know that I am. Some like them light and fluffy. Some (like me) like them very firm. Every culture seems to have some sort of dumpling similar to a matzo ball. So even if you think that you do not like matzo balls, try them.
I am including Ina Garten’s recipe for Chicken Stock. I do not follow this exactly, I use whatever I have on hand. But I do use this recipe as a guideline.
3 (5-pound) roasting chickens
3 large onions, unpeeled and quarted
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 stalks celery (keep the leaves, they are the best part)
20 sprigs fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
20 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
7 quarts of water
Put everything in a very large stockpot. My pot has a strainer in it, it makes it very easy to get everything out of the pot when it is done cooking.
Cover with water.
Bring the stock to a boil. Then simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Take two of the chickens out and let them cook slightly. Take the breast meat off of the chickens and save the meat for later. Put the chickens back in the pot. Let the stock simmer for another 3 hours.
Not the prettiest picture, but you get the point. The stock will be very ugly looking, but that is okay. You are going to strain everything out of the pot and throw it away.
Let everything drain and throw away the vegetables and the chickens.
A layer of fat will rise to the top. Let the stock come to cool off and refrigerate overnight. The fat will solidify and it will be easy to remove when cold. Take the fat off and at this point it is ready to made into a soup. Or you can put it in smaller containers and freeze it.
To make the soup:
4 cups carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups celery, diced
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley
matzo ball mix (and oil and eggs to make them)
salt and pepper
Make the matzo balls according to the directions on the box. Add the fresh parsley to the matzo balls.
I use a small ice cream scoop to portion the matzo balls out (they really grown when they hit the soup) and let them sit while I get the soup ready.
In a large pot (I love using a Dutch oven to make soup) cook the carrots and celery in a few Tablespoons of oil and cook until soft. Add the chicken broth and chicken breast that you set aside, dill, and let simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the matzo balls in the soup until they are finished, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
I like my matzo ball soup with egg noodles. I cook them separately and add them to my bowl right before I am going to serve it.
This soup makes a ton, so I freeze half of it for another time when I get the craving for matzo ball soup.