Matzo ball soup may be one of the most quintessential Jewish recipes, but growing up in New York you didn’t have to be Jewish – and it didn’t have to be Passover – for you to consider this classic dish comfort food. Living in Israel Passover takes on new meaning as all chametz, or leavened foods, are cleared from supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. Even a week before the holiday begins, the chip aisle was replaced with matzo, matzo meal, and more matzo. Passover begins this Friday, but I started craving matzo ball soup weeks ago, and have been buying matzo just to snack on. Apparently I’m weird like that.So what is Passover all about, and why no bread for eight days (seven in Israel)? Passover, or Pesach, is a commemoration and celebration of when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and subsequently freed. No leavened products can be consumed to memorialize the fact that when they were fleeing the Jews did not have time to allow their bread to fully rise. The seder is a dinner during which the story of Passover is told via the hagaddah. It is a foodie holiday if ever there was one, as the tale is told through food (bitter herbs dipped in salt water, for example, represent the bitterness of slavery and the tears of the slaves). In addition, the restrictions on what you can and cannot eat can force resourceful home cooks to get very creative. For more on the holiday, I’ve written a few Passover basics articles recently, like The Meaning Behind the Passover Seder Plate, How to Host a Passover Seder, and Passover-Inspired Cocktails. I also published this very recipe over at SheKnows.
But back to the matzo ball soup. I love this soup year round, but no time is it more appropriate than Passover. There’s no getting super creative with this recipe, and it’s more or less the same whether you check with Saveur, Smitten Kitchen, or The New York Times. Some call for schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), but I just stick with vegetable oil. I like a light, fluffy matzo ball and find that a touch of seltzer and baking powder in the mix do wonders to this effect.
Don’t be put off if the matzo ball mixture doesn’t look like much. Once you form them into balls and throw them in simmering water, watch as they triple in size. I always wondered why they are cooked in water rather than broth, but it’s because they absorb so much of the liquid that you’d be out of broth in no time. Of course real matzo ball soup recipes call for homemade chicken stock, which is what is pictured here, but the truth is that you can use any broth you like. It can easily be made vegetarian by using chicken broth.
Have you had matzo ball soup? What is your favorite way to prepare it?
- ½ cup matzo meal
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional), plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons seltzer
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 quarts chicken broth
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the matzo meal, eggs, vegetable oil, salt, dill, seltzer and baking powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Remove the mixture from the fridge. Form into eight to 10 ping pong-sized balls, wetting your hands if they get sticky in between.
- Carefully drop the matzo balls into the boiling water.
- Reduce the heat to a strong simmer, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the matzo balls with a slotted spoon and add them to the hot chicken broth.
- Serve immediately and garnish with fresh dill.
Thanks to Lacy of NYCity Eats for passing on the Versatile Blogger Award!! Lacy is a culinary school grad who shares incredible recipes from the best city in the world (I may be biased…!). I hope you’ll check out her blog! Thanks Lacy!
Oh! And don’t forget to head over to Beth Michelle for a chance to win a copy of Puff Pastry at Brunch!
I’m off to Istanbul for a week, but I wouldn’t leave you in the lurch. I have some exciting things planned over the next few days!
37 thoughts on “Matzo Ball Soup”
I had heard of this a lot of times but never tried it, I am always intrigued in the taste and texture of that ball. I might search for it in our supermarket this weekend
I had a chance to try this soup a few years ago cooked by my mom’s American host mother (my mom was a high school exchange student and host mom was Jewish – recently passed away). It was her signature dish and I was so lucky to taste her famous dish. This brings a lot of good memory about her. 🙂 Your version looks really pretty!
I just posted my own recipe yesterday for this delicious treat. I also started craving them weeks ago 🙂
Mmm. I LOVE Matzo Ball Soup, especially when I’m feeling under the weather. This looks great!
I love a good matzo ball soup. I didn’t think anything of it before I had it, but once I did for the first time, I totally understood why this is true comfort food! Your version looks quite tasty Katherine!
Great recipe and, as always, beautiful presentation! I loved reading about Passover traditions!
Ooohhh and you have something waiting for you here: http://www.manusmenu.com/rotisserie-potatoes (AGAIN… LOL)
Mmmm, I haven’t had matzo ball soup in ages. This looks so yummy!
This is my favorite comfort food of all time. Lovely photo!
Matzo Ball Soup is good stuff. And for some reason, I almost never eat it. Worse, I’ve never made it! Definitely a deficiency in my cooking experience. Nice recipe, and all the pictures are good – but I’m a sucker for those overhead views. Good post – thanks.
I’ve never had matzo, but I’d love to try, seeing as to how important a dish this is. Looks beautiful!
I see Matzo Ball soup all the time but I’m yet to try it! I think since I’ve been living in NYC for 6 years it’s about time I do. Yours looks fantstic!!
I’ve never tried it Katherine!
It looks good though!
Must confess, this is on the list of things I’ve never made. But you’ve inspired me…I’ll be trying this out now!
The balls look extraordinary! I have read about them so many times, but no one presented them in such an appetising way as you do. I love matzo bread as a snack or normal bread substitute, so I’m sure I would love matzo balls.
Yum! I am with you Katherine – I love matzo balls year round and look forward to when the shelves of full of matzo!! I also like a very light, airy matzo ball. Our recipes are similar but I let mine sit in the fridge overnight before I make them into balls. Enjoy – they look delish! 🙂
I’ve always heard about matzo ball soup and seen lots of pictures of it, but I’ve never had it. I didn’t realize it was so simple to make and I definitely didn’t know the story behind it. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the story behind passover and the connection to food. I found that very interesting.
Your soup does look tasty. Katherine you are so good at preparing so many different foods, I really do not see how you do it! This looks like another winner also lots of good info here about Passover too!
What a stunning recipe! I love Matzo Ball Soup!
Looks delicious! Seems a bit like our passatelli, but without the cheese.
I think it’s my penchant for dumplings in soup but i really do love matzo balls! And seriously, I don’t think you can really go wrong no matter which recipe you use…though yours does sound delicious!
Katherine I love matzo ball soup and yours looks delicious. I make mine with a veggie broth. Making it over the weekend. Hope you have a lovely weekend.
I am another oddball who loves to eat matzoh–go figure. My husband actually suggested we go without matzoh ball soup this year, which is just crazy talk…your soup looks great. I agree that vegetable oil is the way to go.
I have never had matzo ball soup…it looks light and comforting. I am sure I would love it.
I have never tried matzo ball soup. I’ve been to Israel once but it was during Christmas so no matzo ball soup. It looks very comforting and full of symbolic connotations!
this looks lovely Katherine! It has been way too long since I have had matzo ball soup, I think I need to rectify that situation!
I just cooked Claudia Roden’s Matzo Balls – the recipe is only eggs and matzo meal – came out perfectly light! (yours look nicer than mine though!)
Oh, one of my favorite soups!!! Yours looks perfect! Congrats on the Top 9 today, my friend~
We made 80 matzoh balls yesterday, so when I saw your soup on Top 9 (YAY) I just had to stop by!
Here’s my all time favorite matzoh ball: http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/2012/03/passover-potluck-saffron-matzoh-balls/
Wishing you a very happy Passover!
LOVE the fact that I learned so much about Passover, Seder dinner and quintessential Jewish recipe – matzo ball soup! Thanks for sharing 🙂
What an amazing soup! Its freezing in Sydney today so I’d love one of these, thanks 😉
I must try this famous soup one of these day.
You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon. Different theme each month. April’s theme is Chinese Soup.
I have never made matzo ball meal, I am interested though. Your soup looks lovely, especially right now while I sit here cold:-) Hugs, Terra
Not sure how I missed this post. I love this soup. I’ve only eaten it when other people have made it. I think it’s time I tried it myself. 🙂
If you want to use just chicken broth is that okay? Or is it necessary to put anything else in it to make it taste good?
You can absolutely use just chicken broth and matzo balls!
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