Matzoh Ball Soup

comfort food for 4 – perfect for this jolly old weather we’re having
Chicken soup with added dumplings: what’s not to like? This soup is an Israeli street and home favourite, and whilst my knowledge of Jewish food is far from extensive, I have fond childhood memories of enjoying the dish at friends’ houses when I was growing up.
For the uninitiated: matzo are crackers made from a number of different grains, matzo meal is smashed-up-crackers, and matzo balls are dumplings made from matzo meal.
for the matzo balls:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sparkling water (or soda)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in boiling water (optional, unauthentic, but pretty)
  • 100g matzo meal
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

for the soup:

  • 1 fat or 2 skinny joints chicken, skinned (+ any leftover bones)
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • big handful fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (optional, unauthentic, but scrummy)
  • salt and pepper

Firstly make the matzo balls: beat the eggs in a bowl and then whisk in the butter, water and saffron. Next fold in the matzo meal, parsley and seasoning, stirring until the ingredients are just combined. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so while you make the ‘soup’.
You don’t need much chicken to make good matzoh ball soup stock: one fat leg will do, or a left over carcass… Rinse the chicken and put it in a pan along with the vegetables, dill, lime leaves and seasoning. Cover with water (around 1½-2 litres) , bring to the boil and simmer, conveniently also for around an hour. At the end of this time, strain the stock into a fresh pan, retaining the veg and chicken. Most purists would discard the veg, but I like to return it to the pan with the stock. Pick the chicken from the bones and add this too to the stock, and then bring the soup to a rolling boil.
Mould the chilled matzo mix into walnut-sized balls and drop them carefully into the soup. Bubble the soup and matzo balls for a further 40 minutes, and serve piping hot with lemon wedges/juice on the side.

Image by bluelemniscate, borrowed under the Creative Commons Licence for Commercial Use on Flickr.