Anyway, here is her recipe (and I’ll put my challah recipe at the end). Who couldn’t use a big pot of wonderful soup on a random Tuesday in this difficult, comfortless year? It’s easy and rewarding, and if you haven’t met my mother, this is a good way.
Oh, I didn’t mean you should do the sponge cakes and ALSO the soup and matzo balls! I will be eternally grateful if you can find the time & energy to make the soup and matzo balls. The cakes and the rest I’m so used to doing every year that it’s really no trouble at all. I was mainly hoping you would do the soup & matzo balls. If somebody is taking care of that, nothing seems difficult to me!
Here is how I make chicken soup:
You can save the cooked chicken and vegetables but they will be pretty much tasteless and if you serve them in a recipe it will need spicing up. The soup, meanwhile, you can refrigerate and the next day the fat will have risen to the top and hardened and you can take some of it off easily, but leave enough in to give it a good taste and to have those nice shiny circles of fat floating in the soup. Save the extra fat, because you’ll need some of it for the knaidlach (matzo balls).
The soup together with the matzo balls in it freezes very nicely, and it can be thawed and heated under a low heat on Passover day (that’s Holy Saturday for us).
If you know an easier way of making chicken soup, you should use it, because any kind of home-made chicken soup is yummy and holy and special. I hope I explained it right.
Matzo Balls (k’naidlach)
After the soup, this will be easy. How many to make I can’t tell you, only The More the Better. They will be delicious even if they turn out rubbery. This recipe says it makes 8:
You will need: eggs, matzoh meal (kosher for Pesach), chicken fat (melted) from the soup, and some salt.
First heat up a big pot or two of water and get it simmering, covered. Beat up 2 eggs (with an egg whisk if you have one) with 2 tablespoons of chicken fat from the soup and maybe some salt but not too much. (If for some reason you don’t have enough fat you can use vegetable oil). Add half a cup matzo meal and mix with a fork. Chill in refrig for about 15 minutes. Wet your hands and make 8 matzo balls (about one inch in diameter each) for each recipe, and put them into the boiling water.
Cover tightly, reduce heat, and simmer till done–about 20 minutes, maybe a little more. Sometimes they stick on the bottom a little bit and have to be gently dislodged with a spoon. Usually they just sink and then float up by themselves. They should be fluffy but if they’re not they’ll still be loved by one and all.
You can cook more than 8 at a time. The big pots can hold many matzo balls at a time.
I have reason to believe that some recipes call for 2 Tbs. of soup broth along with the eggs, fat, and matzo meal. I’m not sure which recipe we’ve been using all these years, or if there really are two recipes. I always just took the recipe off the matzo meal box and never noticed if there were two versions. You might want to call Simmy and see what she uses.
Do you still want to do all this cooking?? Now that I write it all down I remember why I’ve been trying to get out of doing it every year, mostly by foisting it off on Simmy.
Challah (braided bread)
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
- 2 eggs
- 6-8 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp yeast
- 2 egg yolks for egg wash
- poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
- corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking
In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.
In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.
(If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)
Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.
Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.
Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.
9 thoughts on “Holy chicken soup with matzoh balls”
It has been a long time since I have eaten pot roast.
Thank you for transcribing your Mom’s adorable recipe. Interesting approach to the chicken soup.
1. The long boil seems like she’s really making stock where you want to get the flavor out of the ingredients.
2. Interesting that she starts with whole-ish carrots and later cuts them down. I’ve always wondered why my cooked carrots appeared different. I cut and then cook. She cooks and then cuts.
3. You could also add more flavor by using this stock and then adding sauteed vegetables and chicken to the party to make a soup.
My soup cooking is influenced a lot by Soups from a Monastery Kitchen where he brings a soup to boil and then only cooks it 30 minutes longer. I think the flavors and the integrity of the ingredients survive better with shorter cooking. https://www.amazon.com/Soups-Monastery-Kitchen-International-Favourites/dp/0863475191
I have to share this with you! http://tartu.blogspot.com/2004/12/recipe-from-my-mother-im-no-cook.html
Fricassee Desperation Day! LOL
Thanks so much, Simcha!!! I made a huge pot last week for Rosh HaShonnah (think upper 90 Israel weather!!!). Your ima sounds wonderful!!!! I’ll never forget when I was little my grandma having me chant “a handful of cloves, a handful of peppercorns and a slice ginger “-in Yiddish. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized this was her super secret recipe to an amazing chicken soup (sorry, no dill). The matzah balls had a ton of crushed garlic and chopped fresh parsley for flavor…. and a shot of shelter for fluffiness. Oh so good! Can’t wait til it cools down and I can try your challah recipe! Lucky daughter…. actually you’re a pretty good ima too for doing all this! Shannah Tovah!
Wow, it’s your recipe writing voice to a T! What a beautiful way to connect with your mom!
this makes me cry, because I know your mom is ill now …
and all I can say is that just this morning, after I went hoarse trying to make my really-make-me-angry children clean up their own dang toys and mess, I went to calm down by taking a shower and was able to tell Mom that I’m really sorry for all those Saturday mornings when I was so insistent on Road Runner and she just wanted us to pick up 1/2 a dang thing, for Pete’s sake. And it’s nice to be in contact again now that she’s in Heaven. But I miss her.