Sometimes short cuts in cooking are needed and that’s totally ok. This is my chicken soup with matzo balls, the quick method. By “quick“, I mean faster, but it does not mean ready in 30 minutes. Many people love the idea of 30-minute meals, I totally get that and I try to blog about what I call “quick meals” occasionally. But, sometimes, good things can’t easily be rushed, but they can be helped along a bit, as is the case here.
So while this is not a fast soup, it’s a good one and well worth the effort, even if you don’t serve it on Passover like I do. A good friend of mine once said this soup has healing powers. She believed a pot of this soup nursed her back to health when struggling with a bad case of pneumonia. That’s a tall compliment, but I’ll take it. Despite it being a Jewish holiday go-to for me, I make it whenever anyone in my family gets sick.
The “quick” aspect of this soup is making a great homemade stock with the help of a store-bought roast chicken. Believe it or not, this saves time and gives you great flavor. Instead of making a traditional 6 hour chicken stock, my quick method yields a rich, flavorful base in substantially less time. By whole chicken I literally mean the entire thing, besides reserving some chicken meat for the finished soup, you use it all: juices, bones, skin, I mean everything. You also use some good quality store-bought chicken stock. In this recipe you are basically “enhancing” a stock to make the base for your chicken soup with matzo balls. So don’t be intimidated by the longer than usual ingredient list or cooking time, there is less labor time than it appears. I wrote the recipe with steps telling you what to work on when, if you do so, it will all come together in a timely fashion.
A quick note about my matzo balls. If you ask anyone who is Jewish, they will often go into a lengthy explanation about what makes a great matzo ball. Honestly, there are hundreds of matzo ball variations out there, all based on personal preference. Soft and fluffy, dense and firm, the options are limitless. I personally like a well-balanced matzo ball, and I think I finally found it. Most matzo balls in Jewish cooking call for schmultz (rendered chicken fat) an ingredient unique to Jewish cooking. In Northern Cal, this is honestly rather hard to find. You can make your own, but it’s involved, and not quick at all. For this matzo ball recipe I use refined non flavored coconut oil instead of schmultz, and it did the trick nicely and made even a slightly healthier matzo ball in the process.
Chicken Soup With Matzo Balls
- For the Chicken Stock:
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
- 2 (48-ounce) containers of chicken broth, 1/2 cup reserved
- 4 cups cold water
- 1 whole roasted chicken, broken down juices included, with 1 1/2 cups meat shredded and reserved
- 4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- For the Matzo Balls:
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup refined coconut oil (without taste)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- dash of black pepper
- dash of ground nutmeg
- For the Soup:
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups reserved shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
- Step 1 For the Chicken Stock: Place a large stock pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, chicken stock, water, roasted chicken including juices, bones and skin (minus the reserved shredded meat), carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leafs, peppercorns and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil, Reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cook for about 2 hours.
- Step 2 For the Matzo Balls: While the stock is cooking, make the matzo balls. In a medium size mixing bowl, add the matzo meal, eggs, coconut oil, the 1/2 cup reserved chicken stock, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Mix well to blend. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours while the stock is cooking.
- Step 3 To Finish the Stock: Once the stock is done cooking, turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using a fine mesh strainer, carefully strain the stock into a large bowl, pushing down on all the solids with a wooden spoon to extract all the juices. Discard the solids. Season the stock to taste with salt and pepper. Return the stock back to the large stockpot and place over medium heat and bring back to a simmer. Add the sliced carrots and reserved shredded chicken and cook till the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Step 4 To Finish the Matzo Balls: Fill a medium stock pot half way with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, remove the matzo ball mixture for the refrigerator and using your hands, form into even balls, about 1 1/2-inch across, 12 in total.
- Step 5 Once the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the matzo balls. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes until fluffy. Note: Cooking the matzo balls separately from the soup will prevent the stock from getting cloudy. Line a dinner plate with paper towels and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the matzo balls for the water and allow to drain on the prepared plate.
- Step 6 To serve: Ladle some broth with carrots and chicken into the desired serving bowls. Add 1-2 matzo balls per bowl. Garnish with fresh dill.