Matzo Ball Soup
Prepare to fall in love with Matzo Ball Soup! This hearty shortcut recipe is incredibly rich in flavor, ridiculously easy, all made in one pot and make ahead friendly. It features sensational herb studded matzo balls swimming in a savory broth with juicy chicken and tender vegetables. In this recipe, I’m sharing my secrets to choose-your-own-adventure dense or fluffy matzo balls so you can make them perfect for you every time. Make this classic comfort food for Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur or to warm up to any day of the year. Additionally, this Matzo Ball Soup stores, reheats and freezes beautifully for make-ahead dinner or lunches!
Servings 6 servings
THE MATZO BALLS
- 3/4 cup matzo meal
- 1 TBS EACH minced fresh dill, fresh parsley (or 1 tsp EACH dried)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder (see notes for Passover options)
- 1/4 tsp EACH onion powder, garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons schmaltz (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill, more or less to taste
Mix the matzo ball dough:
Start the Soup:
While the matzo ball dough is resting, make the soup. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let stand while you prep the vegetables.
Heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Sear chicken until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave the drippings. Heat one tablespoon schmaltz or oil over medium-high heat with the drippings. Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the onions are tender, scaping up the golden bits on the bottom of the pan; add garlic and sauté one minute.
Add chicken back to the pot. Add chicken broth, bouillon and all dried seasonings up to dill (don't add dill). Cover the soup and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chicken is tender enough to shred. Meanwhile:
Cook the Matzo Balls:
Once the chicken is tender, transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred into bite-size pieces then return to the soup.
Return the soup to a simmer. Drop the balls into the simmering soup, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until they are plump and cooked through. Stir the dill into the soup. Add additional broth/stock if desired for a less chunky soup. Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.
- Matzo meal: You can find matzo meal in the same aisle as the breadcrumbs. I use commonly found Manischewitz Matzo Meal. Do NOT confuse matzo meal with matzo ball mix!
- Is baking powder kosher? Baking powder is an artificial, mineral based, non-grain-based form of leavening, and therefore it does not fall under the group of foods that are banned for Passover according to many rabis. See this New York Times article for more info. Still, some choose not to use baking powder to keep with the spirit of the Passover, in which case there are several baking powder brands stated “certified for Passover” or they may say Parve or Pesadich. This one by Gefen sold on Amazon is a popular choice.
- Schmaltz: Also known as liquid gold, schmaltz is fantastically rich rendered poultry fat (usually chicken) and HIGHLY recommend if you’re serious about making the most tantalizing dumplings with concentrated flavor. It also promotes more tender dumplings. Look for schmaltz in the kosher section of your grocery store, stocked near the oils, in the freezer section, or ask the butcher, they often sell it directly. You can also purchase it on Amazon here or you can make your own schmaltz.
- What if I don’t have schmaltz? If you can’t get your hands on schmaltz, you can swap it for a neutral oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil, but as the descriptor implies, these are lacking in flavor and won’t make the tastiest dumplings. You can also use unsalted melted butter but this is not kosher during Passover.
- Chicken: I highly recommend bone-in chicken thighs with the skin removed. The succulent, rich dark meat and bone makes for extra rich broth and tender chicken. You can absolutely still use chicken breasts for this recipe if that is what you prefer but I don't find breasts as juicy or flavorful. I recommend using chicken stock if using chicken breasts. You will want to slice your breasts in half through the equator if they are extra-large, otherwise, the simmer time will be much longer and the veggies can break down too much.
- Chicken bouillon: You can use granulated bouillon (powder), bouillon cubes or better than bouillon in equal amounts. Add the bouillon to the soup without dissolving in liquid first.
- Should I cook the matzo balls in water or the chicken stock? Matzo balls are little sponges and will soak up anything they are cooked in. If cooked in water, they will be bland, if cooked in broth, they will be full of flavor. For ease, I cook the dumplings directly in the soup; it saves you from dirtying another pot and makes for the most flavorful matzah balls. Cooking the dumplings directly in the soup will make it a little cloudy due to the starch (I don’t mind a bit), so if this bothers you, then cook the balls in a separate pot of 2 quarts of simmering broth and reduce the broth in the soup.
How to make floaters or sinkers:
My personal preference, used in the recipe card, is to use baking powder and chicken broth. These middle ground dumplings are light, soft and tender, able to absorb broth but still hearty enough to not border on mushiness. For more options:
- For the lightest matzo balls: use seltzer water in place of the broth and add anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (more baking powder will yield increasingly light matzo balls; ¾ teaspoon with be insanely light)
- For matzo balls slightly lighter on the outside but still a bit dense in the middle: use seltzer in place of the broth and skip the baking powder OR skip the seltzer and use only 1/4-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- For dense matzo balls: skip the baking powder and stick with broth instead of seltzer water.
- Matzo balls: You can mix the matzo dough up to two days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator. You can also roll the matzo balls up to two days ahead of time. Line the uncooked balls on a parchment paper lined tray (a 9x13 works well), tightly cover and refrigerate until ready to add to the simmering soup.
- Trim chicken: Remove the skin, then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Chop vegetables: Chop the vegetables and aromatics a couple days ahead of time, the night before dinner or just a few hours before cooking, then store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Measure Spices: It doesn’t take long to measure out the herbs and spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.
How to Freeze Matzo Balls
You can freeze matzo balls either uncooked or cooked and they will retain their flavor and texture very well.
- To freeze cooked matzo balls: Let the cooked dumplings cool completely, then blot them dry. Flash freeze them by lining on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (not touching) and freeze for two hours or until solid. Transfer the dumplings to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to three months. Reheat matzo balls from frozen by gently simmering in chicken stock or broth until warmed through.
- To freeze uncooked matzo balls: Form the dough into balls then flash freeze them by lining on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (not touching) and freezing for two hours or until solid. Transfer the dumplings to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to three months. Add the frozen dumplings to simmering chicken stock or broth without thawing and proceed to cook.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
- Storage: Let the soup cool to room temperature, then cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. There is no need to refrigerate the matzo balls separately.
- To freeze: It is best to freeze the matzo balls separately from the soup so they don’t become mushy. Follow the above freezing instructions for the balls. To freeze the soup, let it cool completely, transfer a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the frozen matzah balls.
- To reheat on the stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through, adding additional broth as needed.
- Microwave: Transfer soup to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.