A Nice Soup For The Change Of Seasons!
There really is no such thing as a perfect matzo ball soup. This is because everybody seems to have their own interpretation of what the best matzo ball soup is. Some matzo ball fans like floaters and some like sinkers. Some like clear bouillon while other like cloudy rich broth. Some like traditional and some like fancy.
For today's recipe, the matzo balls were made plain and simple, while the broth was fancied up with bay leaf, fresh tarragon, mushroom and tomato. The chicken broth was not clarified, like when making consommé. Many matzo ball fans like a cloudy rich tasting chicken broth that has some chicken fat floating on the surface.
I learned how to make matzo balls at a New York style delicatessen in Florida. I used to make matzo balls by the hundreds a few times per week. The secret to making a good matzo ball is to roll the dough with bare hands into a smooth ball shape, while applying just enough pressure to cause a thin sheen of oil to appear on the surface.
Chicken Broth for Matzo Balls:
This recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups.
This is a rich rustic chicken broth that is not clarified.
Step 1: Select 1 chicken that weighs about 3 pounds.
Cut the chicken into sections. Cut the back section free.
Trim the usable chicken pieces and/or debone the breast meat.
Save the usable chicken parts for another recipe.
Step 2: Place the chicken bones, fat and scraps in a large sauce pot.
Add 1 quart of water.
Add 1 whole clove of garlic.
Add 1 bay leaf
Add 2 to 3 pinches of Kosher Salt.
Add 5 whole black peppercorns.
Step 3: Place the pot over medium low heat.
Simmer and reduce till about 3 1/2 cups of liquid remain and the broth is rich tasting. (About 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add water if necessary.)
Step 4: Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
*The second sauce pot should be small, so the liquid is deep enough to boil 2 matzo balls.
Do not skim off the chicken grease (the schmaltz).
Keep the chicken broth warm over very low heat.
This recipe yields 2 matzah balls!
Step 1: Place 1/2 cup of Matzo Meal in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 whisked egg.
Add 1/4 cup of water.
Add 1/4 cup of the chicken grease that floats on the chicken broth.
*If there is not enough chicken grease, then add enough olive oil to make it an even 1/4 cup.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.
Step 2: Mix the ingredients together, but do not over-mix.
Let the dough sit for 5 minutes, so the liquid is completely absorbed by the matzo meal.
*After setting for 5 minutes, the dough should be thick, yet slightly sticky. If the dough is too stiff, add a little bit of water and chicken grease (or oil).
Step 3: Divide the matzo ball dough into 2 equal portions.
Wet your hands (or the sanitary gloves) with water.
Very gently roll a dough portion with both hands, with a minimal amount of pressure, till a ball shape is formed.
Continue to roll the dough ball with your hands, till a smooth surface has formed and a very thin sheen of oil starts to glisten.
Set the matzo balls aside.
Matzo Balls with Tarragon, Tomato and Mushroom:
This recipe yields 1 large portion (2 matzo balls).
Any extra chicken broth can be saved for another recipe.
Step 1: Raise the temperature of the 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth in the sauce pot to medium heat.
Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
Step 2: Place the matzo balls in the hot chicken broth.
Gently boil the matzah balls for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add 2 whole small button cave mushrooms to the broth.
Add 1/4 cup of imported Italian canned peeled seeded plum tomato filets. (Do not add any of the tomato juice from the can.)
Add 1 small bay leaf.
Add 8 to 10 fresh whole tarragon leaves.
Step 4: Gently boil the soup for 15 minutes, till the matzo balls are fully cooked. (Add water as necessary.)
Step 5: Remove the pot from the heat.
Use a slotted spoon to place the matzo balls in a shallow soup bowl.
Ladle enough of the Tarragon, Tomato and Mushroom Chicken Broth into the soup bowl to fill the bowl. (About 2 1/4 cups.)
No garnish is necessary!
Matzo balls are fun to eat and they are filling. This is a nice gentle tasting soup!