April 25, 2016

Spring Matzo Ball Soup with Herb Matzo Balls


for the stock:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 onion, quartered
1 bunch fresh parsley
3-4 springs thyme
2-3 springs rosemary
several sage leaves
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, skin/fat removed and reserved
2 quarts chicken stock

for the soup:
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into coins
2 small to medium turnips, diced
1 bunch spring onions, bulbs and greens chopped (not scallions!)

for the matzo balls:
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat* or olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup hot water
1 egg
1/4 cup minced parsley, thyme and sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

 For the stock:
In a large soup pot, place all of the ingredients for the stock. The broth should be covering the chicken. If not, add water or additional to cover. Over high heat, bring to boil then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, every 10 minutes, skim any scum that floats to the surface off.

For the matzo balls: (start this when you get the stock going)
Pour the water into a large bowl and top with matzo meal, stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons rendered fat (if you don't have 3 tablespoons' worth, make up the difference in oil), herbs, salt, egg and white pepper. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour.

After the stock has cooked for one hour, remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Strain the broth through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing the solids to release any liquids. Discard solids. Shred or chop the chicken.

Return the stock to the pot.  Add the soup ingredients. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the matzo meal mixture from the refrigerator and, using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls.

In a second pot, bring a large amount of salted water to boil. Drop the matzo balls into the water and cook 15 minutes, they should float to the top but this does not mean they are ready, cook the full 15 minutes.

To serve: place 2 matzo balls in each bowl (should serve 4-6) and ladle the soup over. Serve right away.

Store leftover soup and matzo balls in separate containers in the refrigerator. Add the matzo balls to the soup and warm it on the stove top to serve.

*To render chicken fat to make schmaltz for the matzo balls: Heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup.

My thoughts:
The best part of Passover dining is matzo ball soup. We try to make it every year; it is super simple but time-consuming because it of the rendering the chicken fat to make schmaltz, make a super rich broth, make matzo balls and soup. It takes about 2 hours, (don't tell, but in a pinch you can use rotisserie chicken, store bought stock and olive oil for a passable matzo ball soup) but the end result is worth it. This version doesn't feature the crystal clear broth that we have made in the past, the spring onions turn it a bit cloudy and quite honestly, slightly green but the flavor is magnificent. Plus it uses two of the few vegetables in season this time of year, turnips and spring onions.

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