Monday, October 26, 2009

Matzo Ball Soup

I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been away for over a month—I was busy getting hitched! Now that I have solidified the deal with the love of my life, I return happily and nesting in my lil urban kitchen. Since I married a nice Jewish boy, I thought it only fitting to post my first recipe back as a married woman, his favorite, Matzo Ball Soup. It is so easy to make, and anyone can do it.

There are two kinds of matzo ball soup lovers, I’ve come to realize. The first kind is the “purist.” They like their soup simple and refined: a clear, fragrant chicken broth ladled lovingly over 2 or 3 light and fluffy matzo balls. The second group likes heavy, hockey puck-style matzo balls with lots of veggies in the soup. Just by the description I think you can see I am of the former camp (delicate broth, fluffy matzo balls).

Just between us, you can make this soup any night of the week in just a few minutes, but it is the same quality soup of the old-school grandma variety. Honest. For real. There is a secret...All you have to do is make a big old batch of stock (you can even make your stock in a crock pot) and keep it in the freezer in quart-sized bags. When you are ready for your soup, you heat up a bag o' broth, throw in the balls, and simmer. Voila, in just a half hour, your kitchen has been transported back in time to a grandma’s kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, circa 1923. Flapper Food. :)

And flu season? Not a chance with this all-powerful defense in the house!

Matzo Balls
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chicken stock or seltzer

For soup
2 to 3 quarts prepared chicken stock (recipe below)
1 carrot, thinly sliced
A few sprigs of dill (optional)
[If you are in a time pinch, you can also use 2-3 quarts of stock in a box. I like Manischevitz brand low-sodium chicken broth]

With a fork, mix all matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Bring 1 1/2 quarts of well-salted water to a boil in a medium sized pot.
Reduce the flame. Wet your hands. Roll 1-inch-balls of matzo dough in the palm of your hands loosely. Drop the balls into the simmering salt water one at a time. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meaniwhile, bring chicken stock and sliced carrot to a simmer in a separate pot.* When matzos are done cooking, you can spoon them into the stock.

With a slotted spoon, place 2-3 matzo balls into a serving bowl, and gently ladle the soup over that. Garnish with dill if you like. Eat it up and have then seconds!

*If you are fighting a cold or flu, throw in 2-3 whole, peeled garlic cloves along with the carrot slices. Feel free to eat the garlic cloves if you are particularly brave or particularly sick, or if you are a garlic lover like my husband. 

Chicken Stock

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken necks, backs and wings
3 celery ribs, cut into big chunks
3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into big chunks
2 parsnips, scrubbed and cut into big chunks
2 onions, unpeeled and quartered
1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 quarts cold water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large soup pot. Skim the top of any foam. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer peacefully for 2-3 hours.

Pour stock through a pasta strainer into a large bowl. Allow to cool, and fill quart-sized freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months, or store the stock in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.


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