Matzah Ball Soup


I love Matzah Ball Soup. The seemingly simple combination of chicken broth and matzah "dumplings" is so comforting and delicious. For my own Matzah Ball Soup recipe I wanted a clear broth, fluffy (not dense) matzah balls with deep flavor, and appropriate garnishes. 

The Broth

I detail my broth process in this recent recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock, and that's what I used here - it produced a clear broth that very satisfyingly let me see the bottom of the bowl. And it was delicious. 

I make the broth a tad heartier for this soup by adding sliced carrots and celery - it also helps round out the texture of the soup. You end up with silky broth, fluffy matzah ball, and a slight crush from the vegetables. How pleasing!

The broth is, of course, just one element of a great Matzah Ball Soup.

The Balls

I also needed to make a deeply flavorful, fluffy, and not too dense matzah ball. And let me tell you, the world is full of a lot of opinions about how to properly make a matzah ball. 

There seems to be agreement that the correct ratio of ingredients for the Matzah Ball is for every 1/4 cup Matzah Meal use 1 egg, 1 tbsp fat, and 1 tbsp liquid. But that leaves a lot open for interpretation and variation. And, indeed a lot of the debate around Matzah Ball making centers around three basic questions:

  • What fat should you use?
  • What liquid is best?
  • Is Baking Powder allowed for leavening?

Now, I did not want to reinvent the wheel here and try making matzah balls 10 different ways to get to the right answer for what I wanted. So, I worked backwards and first decided what kind of matzah ball I wanted, and searched out how best to make it.

The answer for me was a light and fluffy matzah ball that still had a little chew. I didn't want it to float on the top of the soup, but I didn't want it to be so dense that it sank to the bottom of the bowl either.

The magic answers to the questions were:

  • Use Schmaltz (chicken fat). But I couldn't find any so I used oil;
  • Use sparkling water or seltzer; and,
  • Sure, I'm not Jewish I leaven dough however I want.

The Garnish

There are also a lot of opinions about the garnishes one is to put on top of matzah ball soup. As I was about to sprinkle sliced scallions on the top of this soup before serving it to a group of friends, I was shouted at from afar. "DO NOT PUT THOSE SCALLIONS ON THAT SOUP!"

If I understand the situation correctly, I narrowly avoided causing an uprising in the local Ypsilanti, MI jewish community. Parsley is the only correct garnish for matzah ball, I'm told. How dare I even consider scallions. 

So, please, don't make my almost mistake. Top your matzah ball soup with parsley.

The Method

This is a two-pot soup. In order to keep the broth clear for your final product, you need to poach the matzah balls in a separate pot than the broth you'll use as the base of the soup. I took advantage of this and used the poaching broth to cook chicken thighs and make a chicken salad sandwich that I served on the side along with the soup. 

This also made the broth more flavorful, so that when the matzah balls soaked up the broth during poaching, they got packed with more chicken flavor, meaning I didn't end up missing the schmaltz after all. I think this is the way to go, so the recipe below uses this method as well.

Matzah Ball Soup