Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup

17 Sep

Saturday was another football day!  And that meant two things 1) I knew we’d be getting home late with no time or energy to prepare dinner; 2) We’d be spending time outside in the chilly fall air!

You know what that means: time to break out the slow cooker and make some soup!

Alright, so ‘chilly’ is an overstatement.  It was around 70 degrees in the evening on Saturday.  We also didn’t spend too much time outside either…we left at halftime.  I don’t remember the score at that time, but ODU won 70-14.  Go Monarchs! (Hey, I gotta support ODU because William and Mary’s football team is not doing so hot this season…J.Grimes graduated).

I was planning on making the basic chicken noodle, but you know what? It’s Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), so I figured I’d step it up and make something slightly more festive:

I learned only after making this that matzo ball soup is for Passover.  Fail.  I’ll probably make it then too though because this soup is super easy and pretty tasty.  I’ve never had matzo ball soup, so I have nothing to compare this to, but I’m happy with the way it turned out, especially the matzo balls.

I looked at quite a few recipes and knew I wanted my matzo balls to be light and fluffy and to pack some flavor—I settled on chives (fresh parsley and dill are also relatively common).  I also wanted to jazz up the traditional broth, so my matzo balls floated atop a homemade chicken noodle soup type base.

—-

First, make your chicken soup.  Dice up some onion,

celery

and carrots

Then into a slow cooker with two chicken breasts (mine were frozen), chicken broth (from a can to keep it simple), water, and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley).   Give that a stir.

Now make your matzo ball dough.  It needs to sit for at least two hours, up to 24 in the fridge (which is perfect since your soup will sit in the slow cooker for 5-8 hours or until the chicken is cooked and shreds easily).

First get you some matzo.  I believe this is pretty easy to find in the ethnic section of most grocery stores these days, especially around Passover (but guys, read the top right of this box: “not for Passover.” Very strange indeed).  You could also use saltines and a bit less salt (saltines are also not for passover though).

Here’s what they look like out of the box:

In a food proceesor, grind up a cup of it to as fine a powder as possible (it’s about 4 ½ crackers).  Side note: I waited entirely too long to invest in a food processor…I love mine so much. Highly recommend you have one in your kitchen.

My matzo crackers were still pretty coarse as you can see, but it turned out fine in the end.  Of course you could just use matzo meal, but then you wouldn’t have leftover matzo crackers to eat with butter and jam!

In a medium bowl, whisk together everything but the matzo powder and baking powder.  The seltzer water may foam when you add it.  Then just stir the powders in.  Wasn’t that easy?  I was a bit concerned because my dough was looking soupy at this point.

But after a few hours in the fridge, the matzo absorbed all that moisture and it had solidified.

Now these balls need to simmer for 25-30 minutes or so, so keep that in mind when planning your dinner.

Get a LARGE pot of salted water boiling on your stove.  Meanwhile, form your dough into walnut-golfball sized balls.  My initial plan was to use a 1 oz. ice cream scoop to keep my hands clean, but the scoops fell apart when they went into the water…so you definitely want to form these and make sure they are well packed.

Once the water is boiling, drop your matzo in!  Then turn the heat down and bring the water to a simmer…

These expand almost immediately.  Which I think I knew, but had forgotten.  Guys, use a big pot for these.  The recipe makes 12 golfball sized matzo balls, but they expand to baseball size.

Let them simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or until very tender and fully cooked in the center.  I was a bit concerned I should have used a bigger pan…

Soup and matzo balls met, and the verdict?  The soup has that good basic chicken noodle soup flavor.  Nothing special, but warm and homey.  Which is fine, because the matzo balls are the stars.  They’re like little (well, BIG) pillows…impossibly light and airy from the baking powder and seltzer, but still hearty, and the chives give them a nice bite without being overwhelming.

—-

Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup

Chicken Soup—feeds 4

½ a large yellow onion, diced

4 full sized carrots, sliced into rounds

6 short stalks of celery, sliced

1 15oz can reduced sodium chicken broth

15 oz water

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp dried parsley

1-2 tsp garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Matzo Balls—makes 12 balls (feeds 4)

4 T canola oil (or vegetable oil)

2 T chopped chives

4 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

2 T seltzer water

1 cup matzo meal (or ground matzo—about 4 crackers)

1 tsp baking powder*

  • Place the two chicken breasts in a slow cooker with 1 15 oz can of chicken.  Refill the can with water and add this too.  Then pour in the chopped vegetables and seasonings and give everything a good stir.  Let the slow cooker sit on low heat for 5-8 hours or until the chicken is fully cooked and shreds easily.
  • Once the soup is started, make the matzo ball dough.  Whisk together the oil, chives, eggs, salt, sugar, pepper, and garlic powder until well combined.  Stir in the seltzer water (it may fizz a bit), then the matzo powder and baking powder.  The mixture will be liquidy.
  • Let the matzo ball dough sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, up to 24.
  • Once the matzo dough has ‘solidified’ (the top will be stiff, the insides a bit gel-like), bring a large saucepan, dutch oven or stock pot full of water to a boil on the stovetop.  Meanwhile, form your dough into ~12 golfball sized balls
  • Once the water is boiling, drop the dough in (it will expand!), and reduce the water to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the balls are tender and the centers are cooked through.

Serve your chicken soup topped with matzo balls and enjoy!

*If you make this for Passover, leave out the baking powder.  It’s a leavening agent.  There are kosher-for-Passover baking powders out there, though I have not tried them.

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2 Responses to “Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup”

  1. Gas Station Gastronomy September 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Was just at Jerry’s Deli and instead of having the chicken matzo ball soup I had a sandwich. No idea what I was thinking but this made me crave some!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Soups On! « Halite and Pepper - October 8, 2012

    […] delicious when served with saltines (or matzo if you have some leftover from say…making matzo ball soup?) and Parmesan cheese.  Perfection.  The only thing missing was a buttery […]

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