I love this classic Passover recipe, which we eat as the first course of the Seder meal every year as long as I can remember. Growing up in a Jewish family, all high holidays brought some extra excitement to our daily live. I vividly recall my mom running around for the final ingredients, setting a beautiful table and spending hours in the kitchen. The critical moment was (and still is) the moment the family tasted the matzo balls traditionally known as knaydelach. Matzo balls can be soft and light or firm and heavy. Obviously my family has the perfect recipe 😉 Even though matzo ball soup traditionally is a Passover recipe, I believe it should be eaten year round as it simply too delicious to eat only once a year. Luckily my kids agree!
Ingredients for the soup
Big chicken legs (approx. 1200 gr)
2L of water
1 clove of garlic
1 leek, cut into four pieces
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
Season with salt and white pepper
Optional: chicken stock cubes
Garnish for the soup
1 leek, finely chopped and sautéed
1 carrot, finely sliced
2 tbsp. of chopped dill
Ingredients for the Matzo Balls (40 balls)
9 matzo crackers
2 large onions, finely chopped and sautéed until light brown
9 tbsp. of matzo meal
6 eggs, separate eggs white and egg yolk
season with salt, white pepper and some ginger powder
Preparation for the Matzo Balls
Break the 9 matzo crackers into small pieces, by possible using a clean kitchen towel (to avoid flying pieces of matzo cracker). Place the small pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with water, but not wet. Whisk together the egg yolks and add to the small pieces of matzo crackers. Now stir in the sautéed onions, the 9 tbsp. of matzo meal and season with salt, pepper and a bit of ginger powder. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Whisk them into the matzo mixture until it is smooth. Refrigerate for 60 minutes.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a simmer. With wet hands, roll out the matzo balls. They should be about the size of a walnut. Add balls to water and simmer until tender, light and fluffy in the center, approx.. 20 min. You can test the center by inserting a toothpick. It should slide easily all the way through. Once done, drain, allow cooling off, and transferring to a flat covered container. Refrigerate until needed.
Preparation for the Chicken Soup
Put the chicken legs in your stockpot and add 2 L of water. Bring to a boil and skim off impurities that rise during the first 15 minutes of boiling, and then add celery, carrot, leek, garlic, bay leaves and a pinch of salt.
Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for approximately 2,5 hour or until the water is yellow and the meat is tender.
Turn off the heat and let the soup cool down. Drain the vegetables and chicken from the soup. Now it is time to refrigerate the stock preferable for one night. A layer of fat will rise and harden at the top of the stock. Now you can easily skim the fat of with a spoon.
If you don’t have the time to leave the soup for the night you could pour it into containers and leave them in the freezer for an hour to hasten this process.
Boil the soup again, once skimmed, and taste. If you think it needs some extra then it’s time to add some salt and pepper or possible chicken stock cubes, if you like the taste: perfect and leave as it is. Now add the garnish and let the soup simmer. The carrots need to be soft before serving. Once soft, add the matzo balls to the soup and perfection your soup with the fresh dill.
Bon Appetite 😉
Ps. you can keep the stock in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.