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Nana Lucy's Matzo Ball Soup

Courtesy Madeleine Smithberg
Cook Time:
2 hrs
Prep Time:
1 hr

Chef notes

This is a dish that brings back vivid memories of my childhood. I had to recreate the recipe from memory, and by interviewing my cousins and my aunt because, sadly, my grandmother never wrote it down.

Technique tip: Matzo balls are tricky. Follow the recipe quantities precisely and be careful not to over handle.

Swap option: My grandmother used chicken schmaltz, but vegetable oil works very well. Seltzer is very controversial, you can also use water and ½ tsp baking soda, or just water or broth if you want them to be firm rather than fluffy.


Matzo Balls
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus one tablespoon for making the balls
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 2 tablespoons cold seltzer
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 8-pieces (or any combination of bone-in chicken parts)
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 12 cups water


For the matzo balls:


In a medium sized bowl gently beat the eggs. Add matzo meal and oil, salt and parsley and stir with a fork until mixed, being careful not to over-mix.


Put the matzo mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.


Bring the water to a boil.


Grease your hands lightly with oil and gently form balls about the size of a walnut out of the chilled matzo mixture. Do not over handle.


Gently drop the balls into the boiling water. Cover and boil for 30 minutes.


Test one and make sure they are fluffy, if not let boil an additional 5 or 10 minutes.


Remove from the water and put back into the refrigerator until you are ready to add them to your soup.

For the soup:


Add all ingredients except dill to a large stock pot and bring to a rolling boil on a medium flame. Reduce flame and let simmer for 20 minutes.


Transfer one breast and one thigh and half of the carrots to a plate and let cool. Remove the meat from the bone and refrigerate with the carrots.


Continue to simmer your soup for 2 hours, skimming fat off surface periodically.


Strain into a large saucepan, discarding all solids.


Bring remaining stock back to a boil and add your matzo balls, carrots and chicken meat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes.

To serve:

Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 4-5 matzo balls and a few carrots into each bowl and spoon soup over. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh dill.