Monday, May 23, 2016

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball soup, or as my friend calls it "Jewish Penicillin"

Matzo Ball soup. Comfort in a bowl. I don't know what it is but, this soup has been on my top three as far as comfort foods. Always. It's so good. Especially if I'm sick. Chicken noodle soup? Sure, if it's handy. Matzo Ball soup. All day. Every day, please.
Forget any other recipe for Matzo Balls you've seen on this blog. Because this one is perfect. It produces light, fluffy matzo balls that still have substance to them. So they are still "sinkers" and not falling apart. The texture throughout is tender. Perfection. I honestly don't know if the texture could be anymore perfect. The flavor, well, you're using Schmaltz. Fat is good flavor.
Tender throughout, and still holds it's shape. Matzo Ball heaven.

I thought I was the only one who kept chicken fat and skin in a bag in my freezer to render it for recipes, until I picked up a Jewish cookbook. Apparently, I'm late to the game, because some Jewish cooks do this also. The fat rendered from the skin and chicken fat is called Schmaltz. I also add some onion to give it flavor. Garlic can be added also. Then strain and store in a jar in the fridge. Along side the bacon grease, unless you don't eat pork. 
The soup/broth for this is pretty straightforward. I'll post my method below, but really. Make a stock. strain, add veggies if you'd like. Shredded chicken. Add the Matzo Balls, garnish, and boom. Done. It's even faster in the Instant Pot and the Matzo Balls come out so tender.
The picture below has horrible lighting, so I pulled a previous one for the main picture up top. It's from this post.

Matzo Ball soup= Comfort in a bowl.

Give Peas A Chance Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken stock (8-10 cups)
Vegetable oil or schmaltz
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped (Chop leaves for garnishing soup)
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, whole
1/2 onion
1-2 chicken breasts with ribs
Fresh dill chopped dill, celery leaves, or flat leaf parsley to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat vegetable oil or schmaltz in a soup pot, until shimmering.
  2. Place chicken skin side down and sear rendering fat, brown on all sides.
  3. Remove chicken from the pot, drain and reserve fat for Matzo balls. 
  4. Saute the celery and carrots for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add stock to the pot.
  6.  Put garlic cloves and black peppercorns in a spice ball or wrap in cheese cloth.
  7. Bring stock to a boil.
  8. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, remove chicken from the pot.
  9. Take chicken off the bone and shred the meat. Set aside. Discard skin and bones.
  10. Remove the spice ball and discard the contents.
  11. Add shredded chicken to the pot.
  12. Salt and pepper the soup to taste.
  13. Serve with Matzo balls, garnished with dill, parsley, or celery leaves.

Instant Pot Method

  1. Use the SAUTE function on high to brown the chicken.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot, drain and reserve fat for Matzo balls.
  3. Saute the celery and carrots, remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Put garlic cloves and black peppercorns in a spice ball or wrap in cheese cloth.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot, with the spices and cover with stock. Do not go over the max fill line.
  6. Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to MANUAL, HIGH pressure, for 13 minutes.
  7. Once the Instant Pot is done cooking, let it naturally release pressure for 15 minutes.
  8. Slowly and carefully release the pressure.
  9. Remove the chicken and spices from the Instant Pot. Shred the chicken and set aside. Discard bones.
  10. If chicken is not fully cooked you can put it back into pot and cook it with the Matzo balls, if its cooked set it aside.
  11. Add carrots and celery to the pot, turn the Instant Pot onto the SAUTE function while you add the Matzo Balls.
  12. Add uncooked matzo balls to the pot.
  13. Close the lid and cook set the Instant Pot to MANUAL, HIGH pressure, 12 minutes.
  14. After 15 minutes release the pressure carefully.
  15. Stir chicken back into the soup gently.
  16. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  17. Serve garnished with parsley, dill, or celery leaves.

Matzo Balls 

4 tablespoons Schmaltz (from soup recipe  is perfect, skim more from the top of the broth as needed), or vegetable oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons soup stock or broth 
1 cup, minus three tablespoons (120 grams) Matzo Meal 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt 
Water or broth to boil Matzo Balls

  1. Mix schmaltz with eggs and stock.
  2. Stir dry ingredients together.
  3. Stir wet and dry ingredients until the matzo meal, just until combined. If the mixture looks dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of stock.
  4. On a baking sheet, scoop the mixture into one inch scoop. A cookie scoop works best.
  5.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes - 60 minutes. 
  6. Bring water or stock to a boil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. 
  7. With oiled hands roll the matzo balls into round balls.
  8. Drop the balls into boiling stock/water, or follow the Instant Pot Method aboce.
  9. Place the lid on the pot, turn the water down to a simmer. 
  10. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender.
  11. Drain.
  12. Serve with soup broth.
*FREEZER TIP- I've cooked the Matzo Balls and cooled them on a cookie sheet. After flash freeze them on a cookie sheet lined with oiled plastic wrap. Once they are frozen I put them in zip top bag. For a quick bowl of soup I put a couple Matzo Balls into stock and cook it from frozen.
*If you don't want to use schmaltz, you can use vegetable oil.
* If using the drippings/Schmaltz from the stock recipe, add vegetable oil as needed to total 4 tablespoons. Unless you have some in the refrigerator.

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