Smoked Matzah Ball Soup
Of the soups, salads, sandwiches, milkshakes and blue-plate specials served at Rooster Soup Company, the bestseller is the smoked matzah ball soup. “Smoke is a big part of the Jewish palette, whether it’s pastrami or smoked salmon, so we knew that we wanted to do a matzah ball soup and put our twist on it,” said Cook. Besides using the leftover chicken bones for the rich stock, the smoke in the matzah balls comes from the leftover rendered fat from a Montreal-style smoked short rib dish at Abe Fisher, a Jewish small-plate restaurant from Cook and Solomonov.
- ¼ cup smoked chicken fat (schmaltz)* or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 4 cups diced yellow onion
- 2 cups diced celery
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Matzah Balls
- 1½ cups matzah meal
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- 1/8 cup chopped dill
- 1/8 cup chopped parsley
- 5 large eggs
- ¼ cup chicken fat (schmaltz) or canola oil
- *Smoked schmaltz: In a small bowl, submerge 1 cup wood chips in water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain. Empty the wood chips onto the right side of a disposable shallow aluminum pan. Place ½ cup schmaltz into a separate metal bowl, then set it on the left side of the aluminum pan. Place the aluminum pan on the grill with the wood chips positioned over the burner and the schmaltz over an unlit section. Ignite one burner on a gas grill on medium high heat. Cover the grill, and smoke the schmaltz for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If using canola oil, skip this step.
- Broth: Warm the schmaltz in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, turn the heat to low, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about ten minutes. Add the celery and cook until it just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the fenugreek and cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup until the celery is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the turmeric and season with salt. Set the stockpot aside on low heat until the matzah balls are ready.
- Matzah balls: Whisk the matzah meal, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped herbs to the mixture, whisking again to combine, then add the eggs and schmaltz. Mix the matzah ball dough by hand until it forms a uniform paste, making sure to work through the clumps of dry ingredients. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Take the chilled matzah ball dough and with a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, portion the dough into 12 matzah balls.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot, season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium to maintain a low rolling boil, then drop the balls one by one into the broth. Poach the matzah balls, covered, for 26 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Ladle the broth into soup bowls, add two matzah balls to each bowl and serve.