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Adjust Servings:
Chicken Broth
5 lb whole chicken whole chicken broken into pieces
16 cups water water
2 medium yellow onion chopped
4 large carrots diced
4 stalks celery diced
8 cloves garlic crushed
2 sprigs parsley
Matzo Ball Soup
4 large eggs
1/4 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) I reserved the fat layer from the top of the stock upon chilling
1/4 cup seltzer
1 cup matzo meal
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
chicken stock from recipe above
shredded chicken reserved from stock
4 large carrots
4 sprigs fresh dill
black pepper

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Israel: Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken Soup with Knaidlach

Matzos are a reminder of the Israelites, who in their escape from slavery in Egypt had no time to let their bread rise so instead ate flat breads baked on hot stones.



  • Chicken Broth

  • Matzo Ball Soup



Matzos are a staple of the Passover Seder. The crisp flatbreads are a reminder of the Israelites, who in their escape from slavery in Egypt, had no time to let their bread rise so instead ate flat breads baked on hot stones.  To be kosher for Passover, the dough for the matzos must not be allowed to rise for longer than the time it took to walk a Roman mile, 18-24 minutes.  Matzo meal is made when the matzo flatbreads are formed into fine crumbs; during the week of Passover, this is to be used in the place of flour.  The matzo balls are made when matzo meal is mixed with eggs and schmaltz (chicken fat) and formed into dumplings, or knaidlach. Before matzo was produced in factories in the 19th century, Jewish people would visit their local bakery for Matzo bread, and make matzo balls with the leftover crumbs.

There are many preferences and superstitions that go into the making of good matzo ball soup.  Some like their balls to sink, while others prefer floaters.  Seltzer helps aerate the matzo balls so they’re light and tender, and baking powder makes them lighter and fluffier.  Some insist that it’s paramount not to open the lid of the pot white the matzo balls are cooking.  Schmaltz is sometimes replaced with oil, but you really can’t replace the rich, fatty flavor of the chicken fat.

To be fair, falafel or couscous would probably be more authentically Israeli dishes to have made.  Matzo ball soup is eaten by Jews all over the world, and I certainly don’t want to infer that all Israeli food is Jewish – of course that’s not the case.  But as with nearly every dish I’ve made, I selected one of numerous countries it could be associated with, and I selected one of numerous cultural traditions within Israel.  And it was certainly an honor to be trusted to make the matzo ball soup at my very first Seder!

When your friends live close enough that you can throw on some hot pads and walk the matzo soup to Seder dinner.


Recipe Source: Serious Eats



For the Broth

Combine chicken pieces, water, onions, celery, garlic, and parsley in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove the breasts and thighs and set aside on a plate. Once cool enough to touch, remove the meat and shred. Set the meat aside and return the bones to the stock. Maintaining a very gentle simmer, and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes. Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer, let cool, then transfer to containers and refrigerate until completely chilled. Skim off and remove any fat from surface and reserve to make the matzo balls.


For the Matzo Balls

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs with seltzer, and chicken fat (schmaltz). In a small bowl, stir together matzo meal with baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes. Using wet hands, and re-wetting hands as necessary, form matzo-ball mixture into 1- to 1 1/2-inch balls.


For Soup

Return stock to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add the matzo balls, cover and simmer until matzo balls are cooked through, 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before matzo balls are done add the carrots, shredded chicken and 3 sprigs of dill.


To Serve

Using a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to serving bowls (you should have at least 3 per bowl). Ladle broth, carrots and chicken over the matzo balls. Garnish each bowl with dill.


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