I live life in rhythms. Some might say phases, but I think rhythms is nicer.
When I was little, I collected stickers. I got into a sticker rhythm. Puffy ones, fuzzy ones, scratch n’ sniff. And those awesome, blueish greenish oily stickers. Remember those? Those guys were the emperors of the (very rigid and well known) hierarchy of stickers.
When I realized stickers weren’t all that fun, I started a candle collection. Nearly burned down our house in seventh grade. Actually, it was my friend Jessie Olson who almost burned down our house with my candle collection in seventh grade, but I would never tell anyone that.
Recently, I’ve been in a cookies and soup rhythm. The rhythm goes like this: it’s a steady hum of cookie dough, of little mounds rising in the oven, of crunchy, chewy oatmeal chocolate chips. A gentle swell of soup, of chopping leeks and stirring broth, and steam rising from the big silver pot. It’s a nice rhythm to be in, I think. No matter the weather, or the day of the week, I want cookies and soup. Sometimes in that order. It’s a rhythm, alright, and I like it. It feels soft and round and perfect, like a big, fat matzoh ball.
I’m sure this rhythm will change eventually, maybe into a new found love for surfing. Or, more realistically, for berry tarts. For now, though, I’ll stick with my soup, and with my cookies. You can keep your oily stickers; I’m no longer in the market.
Aunt Lissie’s Matzoh Ball Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten and Streit’s Matzoh Meal
This soup. It makes me want to hug someone. It has a deep, chickeny flavor, which is offset by sweet carrots and mild, pillowy matzoh balls. It’s just so full of love. It’s warming and hearty, without being heavy or rich. Thanks to the recipe on the box of Streit’s matzoh meal, Lissie’s matzoh balls are lighter than air and fluffier than a blow-dried Pomeranian. They’re substantial enough to fill you up but won’t leave you with that heavy, hibernation-seems-like-a-nice-idea feeling.
We ate this soup last Monday night, at our family’s Passover seder, and I wondered why we don’t eat matzoh ball soup year round. Actually, this is something I wonder every year. This year, I plan to eat more matzoh ball soup. For reals. I’m convinced this soup could spawn world peace, if people would just let it. Won’t you let it?
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 3 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
- 4 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
- 2 parsnips, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 4-5 cloves garlic, unpeeled & smashed
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
For matzoh balls:
- 1 cup Matzo Meal (Aunt Lis uses Streit’s)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch ground pepper
To serve soup:
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped (you can also use whole baby carrots)
- 1/2 cups celery, chopped
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- reserved chicken meat, shredded into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper, to taste
To make the stock, put the whole chicken, stock veggies, herbs and seasonings in a large stock pot. Add enough cold water to cover everything, and put it over high heat to bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the stock, covered, for 40 minutes. Carefully, using kitchen tongs, remove the chicken from the pot. Let the chicken cool for about 20 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the chicken, and place the bones and carcass back into the pot. Refrigerate the meat until ready to finish the soup.
Continue simmering the soup gently for two hours. Make sure that the soup doesn’t come to a full boil, or else it will be cloudy. After two hours, remove the soup from the stock and strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Remove the solids and discard.
At this point, the broth can be put back on the stove (to finish the soup), or it can be left to cool and refrigerated, up to a week.
To make the matzoh balls, beat the eggs vigorously in a large bowl. Add water, oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the matzoh meal and stir thoroughly to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour.
Partially fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Moisten hands with cold water and form matzoh meal mixture into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Drop the matzoh balls into the water, and boil for 30 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet.
Note: At this point, the matzoh balls can be flash frozen, right on the cookie sheet (just remove the paper towels first). They store well in a zip-top bag in the freezer. To reheat, just drop them, frozen, into simmering stock and cook for about 20 minutes, until warmed through.
To finish the soup, reheat the stock in a large pot, bringing it to a simmer. (If you’ve refrigerated the stock and it’s cold, skim off the layer of fat on top before adding the stock to your pot). Add carrots, celery, matzoh balls, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer the soup until the matzoh balls are warmed through (about 20 minutes, if they’ve been frozen). Add the reserved shredded chicken and simmer a few minutes more, until chicken has warmed. Add the fresh herbs, and serve immediately.
Makes about 4 quarts of soup, and 10-12 matzoh balls.