Chicken Soup with a Big Comforting Matzo Ball
If this were a normal Passover, I would be in Chicago right now with 15 lbs. of brisket in the oven, a huge pot of chicken soup on the stovetop, plus some 100 matzo balls in production, prepping for a fabulous multi-course meal for my family and friends as I have done for the past two decades.
Since, unfortunately, this is not a normal Passover. I am in Las Vegas, not Chicago. And I’m not cooking a multi-course meal for thirty-five, I’m cooking for one. Just a nice bowl of my chicken soup with a big comforting matzo ball.
Happily, in spite of the global pandemic, we’ll still be holding our Seder and holding tight to tradition. We will all Zoom in on the internet at sundown on Wednesday to retell the Passover story of how we were slaves in Egypt before God led us to freedom with signs and wonders. Each year at Passover we go on a journey in our hearts from slavery to freedom and from sadness to joy. This year is no different in that respect.
Big Matzo Ball Recipe and Matzo Ball Secrets
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My Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup with Herbs and Flowers
Among the many Seder rituals, out of innocence the youngest child who is able asks The Four Questions. The first Question posed, “Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat leavened bread or matzoh but tonight we eat only matzoh. Why?”
And to all the children at Seders around the world, the first Question is answered, “This night is different because we eat the unleavened bread called matzoh in remembrance of our ancestors’ haste to escape from Egypt’s bondage as there was no time to let the dough rise.”
Among the many Passover dishes, Matzoh Ball Soup is a perennial favorite.
Since 2007, I have shared many a matzoh ball here on Taste With The Eyes. But this year, because winter had been especially rainy, cold, and snowy from LA, to Las Vegas, to Chicago…I am giving an extra nod to rebirth and springtime by adding more green herbs and pretty edible flowers to the soup.
Everyone had the same reaction to this bowl of soup. “That’s beautiful!” they said, so here I present the 2019 version called My Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup.
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Savory Matzo Brei
Asparagus, Smoked Salmon, Onion, Fennel
Sour Cream and Fresh Dill
We eat matzo (unleavened bread) on Passover to remind us of our ancestors’ Exodus from Egypt. Leaving in such a haste, they could not wait for bread to rise. Additionally, matzo is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms.
Jett is 10 years old. The morning after our Seder for the first night of Passover, he had Matzo Brei for breakfast. Matzo, butter, eggs with a pinch of salt…and sugar! My cute nephew proclaimed it to be “awesome.” I simply sautéed the water-softened matzo in butter, then added eggs and scrambled it together. I served him the sugar on the side, so he could sprinkle his Matzo Brei with just the right amount. Turns out he likes it pretty sweet, no surprise.
This had me thinking about an adult version of Matzo Brei, a savory rendition celebrating springtime. No vegetable screams spring more than asparagus, and paired with smoked salmon, onion, fennel, dill, and sour cream – the adult version turned out “awesome” as well!
Matzo Brei Recipe
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This past Monday, family and friends were together in the kitchen, rolling scores of matzoh balls in preparation for the several-course meal at nightfall — the start of the eight day celebration of Passover. At our Passover dinner, chicken soup with matzoh balls is one of the favorite courses. These cherished “dumplings” are made from ground matzoh, eggs, and oil.
My brother leads the Passover Seder. Among many of the Seder rituals, out of innocence the youngest child able asks ‘The Four Questions.’ The first Question his eight-year-old son, Jett, poses, “Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat leavened bread or matzoh but tonight we eat only matzoh. Why?”
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Homemade Chicken Soup with Herbed Matzoh Balls
Garlic-Scented Lima Beans, Micro-Thin Carrot Slices
Fine Egg Noodles, Hand-Shredded Roasted Chicken Breast
Fresh Parsley and Dill Garnish
This soup is dedicated to my Nana. I thank her for inspiring me with a life-long passion to explore the cuisine of our heritage. Year after year, I tweak her original chicken soup recipe. This one, prepared in celebration of the High Holy Days (5772 on the Hebrew calendar) resulted in one of the best versions ever. The matzoh balls were light and fluffy, the garlic-scented lima beans added heft, the flavorful broth was beautifully clear and just barely rich. Delicate fine egg noodles and colorful carrots balanced out the dish.
My paternal Grandparents – Irving and Fanny Hirsch (front center)
Careful attention to each component is what makes it special. This soup uses two birds, one for making the broth, the other is roasted – the breast meat shredded and added just before serving. From the double-strained flavorful broth with the tiniest amount of schmaltz droplets providing a hint of richness, to the elegantly sliced carrots (I was never of fan of a floating carrot log), to the garlicky-creamy beans – I am certain my Nana would have approved.
Chicken Soup Recipe
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Saffron Matzoh Balls
Paella, Risotto alla Milanese, Bouillabaisse, Persian Pilafs, Indian Biryani dishes… make room! We can now add Matzoh Balls to the list of international foods flavored with that mysterious orange-hued spice with the bright exotic metallic flavor – SAFFRON.
Some chefs – including one of my favorites – Michel Richard, say that with saffron’s sweet power, the minute you can taste the saffron in the dish, then there is too much. I have to respectfully disagree with the Chef here, and wish I could make these Saffron Matzoh Balls for him. They are unique, intriguing, conjuring memories of foods from far away places…the saffron is assertive and compelling.
With Passover around the corner, I’m experimenting with different ways to prepare Matzoh Balls. I recently read about a recipe for Matzoh Balls Wrapped in Bacon which sounds oh so delicious but clearly, that one wouldn’t fly at our Seder…
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Matzoh Balls – They’re Not Just for Passover!
Over the last decade, I have made in excess of 1000 Matzoh Balls. We make about 100 every Passover. We make them the day before, the day we call “Cooking Day.” We make 2 per person 34 X 2 for Passover dinner, plus we have them for lunch on cooking day, for a midnight snack, and lunch the following day. And matzoh balls are not just for Passover, we enjoy them throughout the year when we get the the urge to liven up the chicken soup. As the self-proclaimed Queen of The Matzoh Ball, I’m going to share my tips on producing the fluffiest and tastiest of matzoh balls!
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