The comfort of warm silken broth, of mild onion flavor, and fluffy yet textured matzo balls lapping in a full bowl of feel-good soup – I have a long time love affair with this chicken soup for the soul. I used sit at Canter’s Deli with my mom, just a stone’s throw from Fairfax High where she went to school – its vibrant Jewish community infused into every local pastry shop and market, hamantaschen and gefilte fish for the taking. I would dunk pumpernickel bagel chips into the bowl of soup until they were softened but not soggy – a delicate balance I fine tuned at the age of nine. In college when I was homesick, my dad would go to Greenblatt’s or Victor’s Deli and overnight express mail me the soup I loved so much – packed in dry ice no less. (Easily making it the most expensive matzo ball soup known to man.) But it was my penicillin, and my association with this soup (as with most foods I love) was rich in story and family memories, of feeling warmed and feeling loved. The kicker in all of this? My family is not Jewish. But as with most foods I relish, they run the cultural gamut. In the spirit of not just Hannukah this week, but also in a love and appreciation for all cultural kitchens, I share with you my matzo ball soup recipe. It may or may not rival your bubbe’s, but I guarantee if you make it, you will be asked time and time again for the recipe.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cayenne pepper, onion, and butter.
- Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until just combined.
- Gently fold in the matzo meal in several additions.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
- In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.
- Moisten hands in cold water and roll the matzo mixture into 3/4 inch balls*
- After all the balls are formed, reduce the stock to a simmer and drop matzo balls into the pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Do not even peek at them; let them sit there, untouched for 30 minutes.
- Then, remove with a slotted spoon.
- Add some sliced carrots, chopped celery, and shredded roasted chicken to the broth until veggies are tender.
- Add the matzo balls back in the pot, and finish with fresh dill.
Serve immediately, and be prepared to blow everyone’s mind.
*Note: Makes 20 medium-sized matzo balls
Hero image via: Fork & Flower