chicken soup with matzo balls

chicken soup with matzo balls

I meant to post this earlier this week – KS was sick this weekend and I made him this chicken soup. But then I came down with a horrible stomach bug on Wednesday and could do no more than sleep while trying to shake of a fever. Now that I’m better, I have to share this chicken soup recipe with you before it gets way too hot for chicken soup. Because this was KS’s favorite soup to date and besides the porcini mushroom soup which I can’t speak highly enough of, this might be mine too.

Everything in the soup just worked, the flavors were deep, developed, perfect. It possessed a thick heartiness to it, and filled your belly with warm, comforting, familiar flavors. I call it my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soup. I put a lot of various things in it and it does take some time to make, but it is totally and wholly worth it.

the WHOLE chicken this you skim and toss... eww.
turnip parsnip

Don’t forget to skim the frothy part of the broth when the whole thing boils for the first time – for that I’ve included a rather unappetising picture of the froth – so you know what it looks like and are compelled to skim it ever-so-vigilantly.

matzo meal floating in the soup

I would also steer you in the direction of buying a whole chicken, rather than chicken parts. I’m convinced that there’s something magical in the proportion of white meat and dark meat and it makes the broth just right texture wise. It’s just as simple to pull the bones out of a whole chicken as chicken parts – when it’s so fully cooked it’s falling off the bone, the whole process takes mere minutes. Besides, when you get a whole chicken, you get the neck, the giblets and the tiny chicken liver – and aren’t those the best parts?

chicken soup with matzo balls

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

for the soup:
10 cups of water
1 chicken
1 large onion, unpeeled, washed
10 sprigs of dill
4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
3 tbsp chopped ginger
1 turnip, cubed into ½ inch pieces
1 parsnip, sliced up in semi-circles
8-10 baby carrots
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp salt
2 potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces

for the matzo balls
½ cup matzo meal
2 eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil or schmaltz
2 tbsp seltzer water
½ – 1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp finely chopped dill

prepare the soup
Thoroughly wash the chicken and place it in the pot. Add the water, the onion, the bunch of dill (tied with a string), celery and salt. Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that will form on top. Discard the foam, continue to cook on medium-high heat until the foam stops appearing. Lower the heat to medium-low and add ginger, the turnip, the parsnip, carrots and the lemon juice. Cover and cook over very low heat for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, taste the broth and see if you want more salt, or other seasonings in it. Pull the chicken out. It should be falling apart and falling off the bone. Pull the bones out and discard, and cut up the chicken in pieces. Place half of the chicken back in the soup and half put aside for chicken salad the next day. Ever-so-slightly increase the heat and add the potatoes.

While the potatoes cook, start on the matzo balls.

prepare the matzo balls
Mix all the matzo balls ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Take the matzo ball mix out of the refrigerator and place by the stove where your soup is simmering. Place a bowl of cold water next to your matzo ball mix – you will need to dip your hands in it so that the matzo meal won’t stick to your palms.

Grab a bit of the mix and roll it in your palms to a ball about 1 inch in diameter. Drop the matzo balls in the soup one at a time. When out of the mix, cover the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the soup from heat. Serve in bowls immediately with freshly cut dill sprinkled on top.


  • melissa

    okay, this is the THIRD post in two days on this and I have the ingredients ready to go because it was already at the front of my ‘cook this’ list. I’m thinking it’s meant to be – this sunday.
    it’s like with the braised short ribs, SR, you’re my “last straw” telling me to make something. ;)

  • radish

    dana – i caught my mother’s dill obsession – i want it in everything :)
    rachel – i love parsley, but something about dill makes me like it more – try it and let me know what you think!
    melissa – i am thrilled that you might be making this – i think you’ll like it. Yes, i’m that last straw just egging you on – you know you want to make this soup…. :)

  • robin

    This looks wonderful… and I’m with you about the whole chicken, the meat is just always better with a whole bird.

  • michelle @ TNS

    do you know, i’ve NEVER had matzo ball soup? chicken soup up the wazoo, but never with the matzo balls. this looks like the archetype of what i’ve always imagined matzo ball soup to be.

  • Cora Sanders

    About how many will this serve? I need to prepare it for 30-40 people next week, so I need to know how many repetition I need.

  • radish

    Cora, i remember it serving roughly 8 people. So if you’re serving 40 ppl, I would multiply by 5? Good luck – sounds intense and fun!!

  • Bonbon

    Almost more than the recipes I love your photography! There is a reverence for the food that I always felt from photos in Gourmet Mag. BTW, dill in the matzo ball soup is delicious. I’ve always done that in addition to parsley. Keep up the good fight here!

  • Bonbon

    I forgot to say that when I made chicken salad with the chicken from this soup my s-i-l (who is so proper it almost makes your teeth hurt) picked up her plate at the end of the meal and licked it! Drop jaw good!

  • MizDahlia

    Just made this soup yesterday and I have to say that I was a little hesitant about adding the ginger and lemon juice (THOSE aren’t traditional Jewish-chicken-soup ingredients! my inner Russian-Jewish grandmother cried). OMG – the brightness and complexity they add to the soup is astonishing – best chicken soup I’ve ever made! Thank you! And happy new year!

  • Radish

    MizDahlia – so glad you liked it as much as we do! We love it exactly for the same reasons – the brightness and complexity! My mom didn’t like the idea at first and now she can’t stop!

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