Matzah Ball Soup: I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Pot

The combination of the snowfall this past weekend and the fact that everyone around me is coming down with the plague has put me in a funk. In an attempt to embrace the cold weather and give my immune system a warm and tasty boost, I decided to hunker down and make some matzah ball soup. There are a plethora of recipe options out there for matzah ball soup. What attracted me to this particular recipe was that the matzah ball mix called for 4 tablespoons of chicken fat. It’s going to be a rough winter folks, and it would behoove us all to pack on a few more pounds in preparation.

My recommendation for those who want to attempt this recipe is to either a) buy a small chicken or b) buy or own a very, very large pot. Funny enough I bought a pot specifically for making soup. Not funny enough, the pot was barely able to accommodate the bird and all the fixings. When the recipe told me to pour the broth from my large pot into another large pot I started to laugh. Clearly the recipe was mocking me and my dearth of large cookware. Luckily I had enough small pots to accommodate, but it was a close one, that’s for sure.

So how does the whole experience rank? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “bad” and 5 being “good”:

Prep time: 3

After cooking so many desserts of late it was nice to cook an actual meal! I get a lot of pleasure out of chopping and cutting various ingredients and then deliberately dropping them into a pot. It made me feel very professional. The matzah balls add an hour in prep time, though, as the mix must be refrigerated for an hour before you get to mold them into little balls.

Overall ease: 3

This recipe was rated as “intermediate” on the cooking channel website and I think that’s accurate. Any recipe with multiple parts adds complexity, and in my case, frustration. I’m all about efficiency in the kitchen. (I wash my dishes and cooking implements as I go.) But with this recipe, I couldn’t start on the matzah balls until the soup was done, as I had to skim off the fat from the broth to mix into the matzah ball mix. It doesn’t make for added complexity, but it was a bit frustrating and made for a time-intensive process.

Cook time: 2

The majority of this recipe was of the “set it and forget it” variety, which is ideal when you’re watching halloween movie marathons. I would recommend keeping the matzah ball mix in the fridge for a tad longer than one hour (as the recipe suggests). The mixture was a little too wet and sticky (almost glue-like), making it really difficult to mold them into balls.

Cost: 2

The 5 pound chicken was the biggest expense coming in at about $13. Go vegetarian if you want to slash the price.

Taste: 2

This soup was delicious, but the matzah balls were too dense for my liking. It was quite disappointing after so much preparation and cooking. I’m definitely going to try another variation of this recipe, hopefully one that results in fluffier matzah balls!

Ingredients

Chicken Soup:

  • 1 (5 or 6 pound) hen
  • 2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in big chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Matzah Balls

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chicken fat (from the above soup)
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 12 cups salted water

Directions

Wash the chicken with water and place in pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off bubbling foam as it forms. Add celery, carrots, onion, herbs, salt, and pepper. Simmer, half-covered at lower heat, for at least 45 minutes, until the chicken seems done. The chicken will come away easily from the bone. Pour soup through strainer to get a clear broth. Let cool. When broth has completely cooled, skim off the fat and save for the matzoh balls.

In a mixing bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons chicken fat. Stir in the matzah meal and salt. Add 1/4 hot water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Form the matzah dough into balls the size of walnuts. Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the matzah balls, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (don’t even peek!). Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove matzah balls from hot water with a slotted spoon and add to the simmering chicken broth just a few minutes before serving.