Every good Jewish boy loves his mother's chicken soup. It's part of our DNA. It is penicillin when we are sick; it is comfort food when we are sad; it is communal food when we are celebrating; and it has its roots in the traditions of relatives that we no longer have with us or ones we never got a chance to meet. This is both part of my tradition and part of my childhood, and with just one spoonful I am immediately transported back to the happy, wonderful times of youth.
Technique tip: Instead of using cold water or oil on your hands to make the matzo balls and drop them in the pot of salted water to boil them, use an ice-cream scoop!
Swap option: In a pinch, or if pressed for time, forget the raw chicken and add cooked, diced chicken from a purchased rotisserie bird and chicken stock instead of water.
- One 2- to 3-pound chicken, quartered
- 1 large bunch dill
- 1 large bunch parsley
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
- Celery root, peeled and chopped (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
- Garlic powder, to taste
Matzo balls (per matzo ball)
- 1/4 cup matzo meal, plus more as needed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/8 cup fat (oil, melted butter, shortening or schmaltz)
For the chicken soup:
1. Place chicken in stock pot and top with cold water.
2. Boil for about 30-40 minutes and then skim the soup.
3. Add the bunches of dill and parsley (wrapped in cheesecloth so they can be fished out of the soup later).
4. Add carrots, onion, celery, turnip, parsnip and celery root, if desired.
5. Add salt, white pepper and garlic powder to taste.
6. Cook for 1-1½ hours, then strain the soup or just fish out the herbs and vegetables and preserve for serving.
For the matzo balls:
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until well blended. Let the mixture thicken about 15 minutes.
3. Cook matzo balls in boiling salted water for 20 minutes until cooked through.