What’s the next step after roasting a chicken? Why make stock of course! It’s really simple. Just remove as much meat as possible (reserving for another use), dump the bones, skin and debris in a large pot (a stock pot is ideal!), add in an unpeeled onion with the skin (the skin adds a lovely roasty hue to the broth), a whole wack of garlic cloves, a couple of carrots and a couple stalks of celery (leaves and all). Then comes the seasoning. Throw in a couple of bay leaves, salt, whole peppercorns, and some dried herbs of your choice (I love rosemary). Cover the whole shebang with water, add a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and within the hour, your kitchen will truly smell like home. I like to simmer my stock for about 2 hours or so, which really brings out the gelatin from the bones making your stock hearty and rich and sticky with flavour. Remove from heat and strain. Chill stock in the fridge.
Now you have the base of a really, really great soup. But the soup most suited to this rich broth is matzoh ball soup. I’ve made matzoh ball soup many times from a mix and it’s easy, but the last time I went to the store, I found ground matzoh in a large container and decided that it would be just as easy to make my matzoh balls from scratch. And so yesterday, that’s just what I did. And the results? Heavenly. The dumplings were light and fluffy and so flavourful! And the secret to this soup not only relies on the homemade broth but on the schmaltz, which is a lovely Jewish term for plain ol’ chicken fat. Once you remove your sufficiently chilled stock from the fridge, you will notice a layer of white fat resting on top of your stock. This is the golden stuff of your matzoh dreams, so carefully remove the fat layer with a spooon and set aside in a small dish. This is the schmaltz that really makes your matzoh balls come alive. If you don’t have any schmaltz, you can always use plain old vegetable oil in your dumplings, but trust me when I say that those matzoh balls won’t elate your soup to heavenly levels.
heavenly matzoh ball soup
2 T melted schmaltz
1/2 t kosher salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 c ground matzoh meal
1 large pinch of dried dill weed
1 heaping t of dried parsley
1/2 t granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
a large pinch of black pepper
homemade chicken stock (see 1st paragraph)
1/2 c diced carrots
1 celery stalk, diced
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 c diced cooked chicken
1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir gently to combine the schmaltz and the eggs. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the matzoh meal with the salt, baking powder, dill, parsley, granulated garlic and pepper. Stir until everything is blended.
3. Pour egg mixture into the dry mixture and gently blend with a fork. OVERMIXING IS THE DEVIL. Don’t do it. Put it in the fridge for half an hour.
4. In a large pot, dump in the stock, carrots, celery and onion, cover, and bring to a boil. Add in diced chicken and turn down heat to a simmer.
5. After matzo mixture has set, gently remove teaspoon fulls of the batter and lightly roll into 1″ balls and drop into the soup. Cover and cook without stirring or peeking for about half an hour. Remove matzoh balls with a slotted spoon and place into soup bowls. Ladle soup over top and serve.