Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Comfort in a Bowl: Matzo Ball Soup

“Tomorrow, I’m going to make one of the most beloved comfort foods of all time.”

This month, I am gravitating towards comfort foods.  Hot, steamy, mushy, salty comfort foods. Matzo ball soup is one of the most popular and well known comfort foods in the world. It originated in Eastern Europe, where dumplings are very popular.  Jewish women made them with matzo meal, possibly to be kosher for passover or possibly because they just had a lot of matzo around. Whatever the reason for their invention, matzo balls taste amazing. Their popularity is well deserved.

Prior to making it myself, I had tasted matzo ball soup only once in my life, when Sarah and I made it from a mix using some questionable egg replacer in place of the eggs.  It was pretty good, actually. But to make it from scratch, the only non-pantry staple item you need to buy is matzo meal.

Found in the Kosher/Jewish foods section.

Then I made it myself, and I am officially hooked!  Making it from scratch isn’t all that different from making the box mix.  Matzo meal, salt, pepper, water, fat and eggs are mixed together.  You chill the mixture for a bit, shape it into dumplings, and cook them.  Then you add them to chicken broth, which can have carrots and other veggies added to it if you like.  Pretty simple.

When homemade stuff doesn't cut it, this is my secret weapon.

I used leftover broth from my turkey soup.  It wasn’t quite flavorful enough, so I added a little chicken bouillon.  Is this cheating? Possibly.  Did my tastebuds really mind? No.

Matzo Ball Soup
(makes 8-12 matzo balls)
½ cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
2 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons seltzer water

2-3 quarts chicken broth (See my note)
1 carrot, sliced
Fresh dill

Mix the matzo ball ingredients together. Chill for 30 minutes.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and turn down to a bare simmer.
Wet your hands and roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Carefully drop the balls into the simmering water.  You may want to use a slotted spoon for this.
Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer.  Add the carrots and simmer for 5-10 minutes (depending on how big your carrot pieces are).
To serve, lift 2-3 matzo balls out of the water into a soup bowl.  Ladle broth and carrots into the bowl, and top with a few pieces of fresh dill.

Rachael’s note:  Don’t worry if you don’t have enough broth.  You can get by with less than two quarts if you aren’t serving many people. My rule would be about 2 cups per bowl of soup you intend to eat. Make more broth if you love broth, less if you’re more about the matzo balls.  People will tell you homemade is the only way to go but canned/boxed broth or bouillon added to water both taste just fine to me! Disclaimer: I love bouillon.

Recipe Source: Matzo Ball Soup from smitten kitchen.

Matzo Ball Soup Info Sources:
Arfa, Orit. “Thinking Outside the Matzah Ball Box” JewishJournal.com.  25 Mar 2009. Accessed 8 Jan 2013.  
Jewish Cooking.”  Judaism 101. Accessed 8 Jan 2013.

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