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The Lightest Matzo Balls – Guaranteed!

by Jane Worthington-Roth

I did not grow up in a Matzo-Soup-Eating environment. Being raised Catholic, I didn’t even try a matzo ball until much later in life. I immediately fell in love with the flavor and texture of this iconic soup!

My husband told me that the best matzo balls are light, don’t fall apart when cooking and have lots of flavor. Too often, however, even the most traditional recipes result in a matzo ball that would crack the sidewalk if dropped! Only recently have I learned the trick that using chicken fat in place of oil yields a much lighter matzo ball that’s more flavorful as well.

Now I make Matzo Ball Soup quite often at home and have learned that I can make the matzo balls ahead of time and easily freeze them for later use. There are always a couple of bags of matzo balls hiding in my freezer, just waiting for a surplus of chicken soup to swim in!

Matzo Ball Soup

For the matzo balls:
½ cup matzo meal
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or chicken fat)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried dill weed, crumbled

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon dill
3 cups cooked chicken (I use the meat from a Rotisserie chicken)
10 cups chicken stock

  1. To make the matzo balls, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the matzo meal, eggs, oil or chicken fat, salt, pepper and dill weed in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate the mixture for 20 minutes.

  2. While the matzo is chilling in the fridge, make the soup. Heat the olive oil on low until shimmering then add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not browned.

  3. Add the herbs, chicken and stock and simmer until hot.

  4. Bring another large pot of water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a gently simmer. If you cook the matzo balls in the soup pot, the stock will turn very cloudy from the starch that they release. It’s best to cook them separately.

  5. Wet your hands and form the matzo mixture into 1-inch balls. The mixture will be very oily. Take care to smooth over any cracks in the matzo balls, as you want to make them as structurally sound as possible so that they do not fall apart while cooking. Note that the matzo balls will double in size as they cook.

  6. Carefully drop the matzo balls into the simmering water, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes. To serve, place 2 – 3 matzo balls in each bowl of soup.

If you are not planning to use the matzo balls immediately you can easily freeze them for later use. Remove the matzo balls from the pot with a slotted spoon and place them on a cooking sheet lined with non-stick foil. Carefully cover the matzo balls with plastic wrap or wax paper – make sure to tuck the wrap between the matzo balls so they don’t stick together when freezing. Place the sheet into the freezer until the matzo balls are firmly frozen. You can then remove them and store them in a Ziploc plastic bag. Once frozen, they will not stick together when stored. To reheat, simmer in hot water until hot then add to your chicken soup.