Make rich, comforting soup just like Bubbe's.
Great matzo ball soup starts with homemade chicken broth. The chicken stock starts out with a whole chicken, cut into pieces, and simmered with aromatics and root vegetables like carrots and parsnips. Everyone's favorite part of the soup, though, is that airy--or dense, depending upon your preference--dumpling known as the matzo ball (also called knaidel).
Making the Broth
- Follow our step-by-step instructions for making your own chicken stock.
- Get more recipes for chicken stock.
While there are several recipe variations for matzo balls, the basic formula for these dumplings contains matzo meal, eggs, chicken fat (schmaltz), and salt. The shaped dough should be chilled for at least an hour before cooking; this helps them firm up so they don't fall apart in the soup. Before serving, the matzo balls are poached in broth until they expand and become light and fluffy.
Most cooks have a few tricks for making the lightest and fluffiest matzo balls in town. One secret is to leave the pot covered until the dumplings are almost done--if you leave the lid off, the matzo balls may become dense and leaden. Other families prefer dense, chewy matzo balls and choose to cook them longer in an uncovered pan.
- For light matzo balls, you can separate the eggs and beat the whites until they are fluffy before combining them with the rest of the ingredients.
- A quick way to add a light and tender touch to matzo balls is to use seltzer or ginger ale in the mixture.
- Before shaping, oil your hands; the oil will keep the balls from sticking to your hands and forms a light coating on the dough, helping prevent the matzo balls from absorbing too much liquid while they cook.
- If you're short on time, you can drop the matzo ball dough from a spoon directly into the simmering broth, without shaping them at all.
Whichever tricks you use, be sure to make a big batch, because nobody can ever get enough matzo balls! Before serving, garnish each bowl of soup with fresh chopped dill and parsley, and get ready to enjoy what may be one of the world's most perfect foods.