Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
The deeply flavored chicken broth and fluffy, perfectly round matzoh balls are as good, if not better, than any your bubbe has ever made. The secret? The JBF America's Classics Award–winning restaurant uses a pound of chicken parts plus a whole chicken to make its golden broth. The matzoh balls are light yet infused with the rich flavor of schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat. You can find schmaltz in the freezer section of some butcher shops. To make your own, ask your butcher for a pound of raw chicken fat and cook the fat in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour until all of the fat has rendered from the skin and the liquid is golden yellow in color.
- 1 pound chicken parts
- 2 celery ribs, including leafy tops, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 whole chicken, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 large onion, unpeeled (find one with a firm, golden brown peel)
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 1 parsnip, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch fresh dill, cleaned and tied into a bundle with a string
- 4 large eggs ¹
- 1/3 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/3 cups matzoh meal
TO MAKE THE SOUP: Combine the chicken parts, celery pieces, and 12 cups cold water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Rub the inside of the whole chicken with 1 tablespoon of the salt. When the water comes to a boil, add the whole chicken to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the chicken is tender and fully cooked, about 30 minutes. Transfer the whole chicken to a large platter and let cool.
Add the onion, carrot, parsnip, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper to the chicken parts in the broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, skimming scum off the surface as necessary. When the whole chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. You can add the meat to the soup just before serving or save it for chicken salad.
Strain the broth and discard all the solids except the carrot. Cut the carrot into 1/4-inch-thick slices and reserve. Return the broth to the pot. (If making the soup ahead of time, cover and refrigerate the broth and carrot pieces separately. Remove any fat that has congealed on top of the soup before reheating.) When ready to serve, bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat.
TO MAKE THE MATZOH BALLS: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to blend thoroughly. Add the schmaltz, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, and the baking powder and whisk to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the matzoh meal, gently mixing until completely blended. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to 2 hours. (The longer the mixture sits, the denser the matzoh balls will be. For “floaters”—fluffy matzoh balls—chill the mixture for no more than 30 minutes. For “sinkers,” the mixture can sit for up to 2 hours.)
Fill a large, wide stockpot three-quarters full with water. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Using wet hands, quickly shape balls about 1 1/4 inches in diameter (they will double in size when cooked), making a total of about 22 matzoh balls. Using a slotted spoon, gently place the matzoh balls in the boiling water, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. (Be careful not to crowd the pot or the matzoh balls will not cook properly; work in batches or use two pots if necessary.) Cook until the matzoh balls have risen from the bottom of the pot and have puffed up to about twice their original size, about 25 minutes. (Matzoh balls can be made ahead of time and stored in the broth, but they will get heavier. To freeze the matzoh balls, remove them from the cooking water after the full 25 minutes’ cooking time and set on a cookie sheet to cool. Freeze on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. To reheat, place the frozen matzoh balls directly into the cold soup and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until heated through.)
Just before serving, add the dill bundle to the simmering broth and cook for 1 minute. Remove the dill bundle and discard. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. Add the carrot pieces and the chicken meat, if using. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add 2 or 3 matzoh balls to each bowl.
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6 to 8 servings (makes 8 cups soup and 20 to 22 matzoh balls)