Not Exactly Aunt Lil’s Matzah Ball Soup
Aunt Lil’s matzah ball soup got quite a build-up in the Kassoff family long before I ever tasted it and it certainly lived up to the hype. It was rustic, homey and satisfying, but needed some refining around the edges to bring it into the world of fine dining. Aunt Lil, for instance, didn’t add noodles to her soup and cooked her matzah balls directly in the broth. At Equinox, we make the matzah balls separately to keep the broth pristine, then add noodles and a garnish of scallions and finely diced vegetables to give the dish a polished look.
- Matzah Balls
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or pareve margarine, melted
- 1/4 cup club soda
- 1 cup matzah meal
- 1/2 cup chopped Caramelized Onions (recipe follows)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- One 3-pound whole chicken
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 1 medium turnip, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch parsley, washed and blotted dry
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cups carrots, finely diced
- 2 cups celery, finely diced
- 1 cup turnips, finely diced
- 3 cups fresh egg noodles or packaged dry noodles
- To mix the matzah balls, whisk together the eggs and melted butter or margarine in a large bowl. Whisk in the club soda and then whisk in the matzah meal, Caramelized Onions, salt and pepper. As the mixture thickens, tap off excess batter from the whisk and switch to a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to finish mixing into a dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, for the soup, remove the gizzard and liver from the chicken and reserve for another use. Wash the chicken under cold water and cut into eight pieces. Place the chicken in a stockpot large enough to comfortably hold it; add the onion, celery, carrots, turnips, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Pour in water to cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer over high heat, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- To cook the matzah balls, about an hour before serving the soup, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Spoon two or three ladles of soup into the pot of water for add flavor. Shape the matzah dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, rolling them between your palm (moisten your hands with a touch of water first). Add the matzah balls to the boiling water, cover the pot and simmer until cooked, about 30 to 40 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the matzah balls to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; keep warm.
- To finish the soup, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool. Pour the broth through a sieve into a bowl and discard the vegetables. Pour the broth back into the pot and keep warm. Pull or cut the chicken from the bones and pull the meat into bite-size pieces, shredding with your hands; set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Add the diced carrots, celery and turnips to the pot with the broth and simmer 10 minutes. Place six large soup bowls in the oven to warm. Add the noodles and chicken meat to the pot and simmer until the noodles are tender—about 7 minutes more. Remove the bowls from the oven and spoon 3 matzah balls into each, add a generous spoonful of vegetables, noodles and meat, then ladle in broth to fill the bowls. Sprinkle with sliced scallions over the top of each bowl, dividing evenly.
- Caramelized Onions
- Thinly slice enough yellow onions to equal 3 cups (2 medium onions). Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Stor in the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 4 minutes. Lower the heat to low and continue to cook the onions, stirring often, until they turn amber in color—20 to 30 minutes. Drain in a colander and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 4 days. Makes about 2 cups.