Mazto ball soup with a modern perspective
from a Jewish lady who feels far removed from her roots, but trying to reconnect.
&& the same lady who is a dietitian and prefers maximum vegetables with every meal.
Growing up, matzo ball soup was one of my favorite dishes. Whether sick or not, I’d frequently request this soup and enjoy it daily when it was in the house, always wanting seconds if I wasn’t served in a big bowl (American mindset partly to blame I suppose…). Love for soup remains, although preferences have changed. In my adolescence, I’d love a ton of noodles in my soup, and who even knows what those matzo balls were made of..What about the broth? Was is slow simmered with chicken bones and fresh vegetables? Hmm..
I’ve never been one to make soups, actually this is the first homemade soup I’ve ever made. Cooking soups never appealed to me since I typically just cook for myself, and now I will have soup for like 3 weeks, lol. Definitely not complaining though and after trying this soup, I am pretty sure I just want to eat soup forever. So flavorful and nutritious, and there are so many options throughout the seasons. I invested in my first 8 qt soup pot as well as official soup spoon yesterday, so seems I am committed.
I reached out to my Aunt Sherri for her goto recipe, as hers is always amazing. She makes her soup with turkey meat and stock, as well as celery. I loved the turkey idea, but the farmer’s market was only selling chicken and the quality was ideal- local, organic, pasture raised and fed, with supplemental non-gmo feed. I could not pass that up. Celery is also a lovely addition in soup, but I used cabbage here since the farmer’s market did not have any. I followed my aunt’s recipe formula, but with my own customizations to create a collaboration from cities apart <3.
Lately I’ve been a bit under the weather, I’m focusing on more of a mind-body connection here; stress or perhaps another lesson to be understood. We all have our comfort foods, and today’s recipe reminded me about the importance of nostalgia from quality food, while still being able to modify to current preferences. Turning to food for comfort or emotional eating can be detrimental, but there is something to be said about homemade chicken soup to nourish the body, i.e. Jewish penicillin. Below you will find a culinary representation of the connection between cuisine and medicine to cure the ailments and soothe the soul.
For the stock:
8 qt or larger stock/soup pot
~4 lbs chicken thigh and leg quarters, with bones and skin (organic, pasture raised and fed; ideally from a local farm)
4 quarts filtered water
1 large bunch of carrots
1 small head of cabbage
2 bunches of swiss chard
1/2 lb broccolini
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
~1-2 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste (be mindful if you have preexisting heart conditions)
For the matzo balls:
I used this recipe: Fluffy Matzo Balls
If you have a favorite recipe, definitely use it.
Schmaltz is recommended for the fat. I didn’t have/couldn’t find/couldn’t make, so I used ghee. Yes, totally dairy and totally not kosher. I told you this was “modern” matzo ball soup :).
I used organic matzo crackers and ground them in my food processor, instead of the matzo meal.
Grind spices in mortar and pestle or herb/spice grinder. Alternatively, you can use ground spices if you do not have any grinding devices, but start with 1/2 less measurement.
Place water and chicken in soup pot on high heat until a light boil.
During this time, prep the matzo balls, cover and leave in fridge.
Add spices, herbs, vegetables. I saved some of the tender greens, chard and broccoli, and added those toward the end of cooking. I also had to wait to add in these vegetables because the pot was so full. Some liquid will evaporate during the cooking process, thus my mindset was to add more vegetables :).
Maintain a simmer on low heat (around 3-4 setting) for at least 4 hours, uncovered. Adjust seasonings to taste.
For the last ~30-45 minutes, add in the matzo balls and continue to simmer.
Turn off and remove from heat. It will be very hot. You will want to remove the chicken skin, bones, and cartilage (unless you eat this). Use tongs or a utensil to remove and discard these pieces. The chicken will be so soft and falling off the bones so it will be fairly easy to fish out the unwanted remains. If you have use for these remains, please let me know- I am curious if they can be repurposed.
Serve immediately. I would not recommend leaving out for more than two hours for food safety reasons. Store leftovers in your preferred storage containers (glass recommended) for fridge or freezer. I recently purchased glass storage containers that are suitable for freezer and oven, which makes it convenient for storage as well as heating up. Keep in mind, not all glass containers are suitable for freezers. You can date the soups that go in the freezer to monitor the shelf life. Do not place the whole batch of steaming hot soup in the fridge, as this will take a long time to cool far past the temperature danger zone and can become susceptible to foodborne illness. Your best bet would be to portion out the soups in smaller containers and then place in fridge or freezer.
Now that we have all the food safety requirements out of the way, it’s time to enjoy
What’s your favorite food that always makes you feel better when you’re under the weather?