Matzo Balls - Chicken Soup for the Bowl!
My version of the song “Memories” is a bit different than the one Barbra
Streisand made famous…
Of the chicken soup we ate
Misty golden-colored memories,
Of the “weigh” we were!
Of Mom’s special matzo balls
Light and fluffy in our soup bowl
Ah, the “weigh” we were!
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
When schmaltz and calories didn’t count!
Oy, if we could only eat like that again,
Tell me, would we? Could we?
May be beautiful and yet,
We’re so lucky to remember
Seder meals we can’t forget.
It’s our traditions
We will remember
Whenever we remember…
The “weigh” we were…
The “weigh” we were!
Matzo balls and chicken soup evoke special memories for most people.
Everyone’s favorite part of the chicken soup is that wonderful white matzo
ball sitting in the center of the bowl.
Matzo balls, also known as
kneidlach, come in all sizes and shapes, from
miniature to mammoth. Some people like them light and fluffy, while others
prefer them dense and doughy. There is an ongoing debate in many families as to
which type is better – “floaters” or “sinkers.”
When my assistant Shelley Sefton got engaged, she took her fiancé Daniel to
meet his future in-laws. Shelley’s late mother Daphne Zarenda served them her
special chicken soup with matzo balls and Daniel politely complimented his
future mother-in-law on how light and delicious they were.
On the way home, Daniel confessed to Shelley that although her mom’s matzo
balls were very good, they definitely weren’t heavy enough – not like his
mother’s “sinkers!” Daniel declared, “My mother says matzo balls have to
be “sinkers” or they’re no good!”
To this day, Shelley still continues to make floaters, just like her mother
taught her, much to Daniel’s dismay. And each time he says “That was lovely
soup, honey, but your matzo balls are still not “sinkers!”
When my Auntie Clara Tobin was alive, she would make huge white “sinkers”
each Passover. There were usually 25 or 30 hungry guests at her long series of
tables which stretched from one end of her dining room to the far end of her
living room. She would prepare the mixture earlier in the day and as soon as the
Seder began, she would shape the kneidelach and drop them into a huge pot of
boiling water to simmer away. Her giant matzo balls were served “hot from the
pot” as soon as the first part of the Seder finished and my cousin Myrna and I
always managed to eat at least two or three. Unfortunately, my Auntie Clara’s
recipe has been lost over the years, much to my dismay, and Myrna often uses a
mix. However, the memory of Auntie Clara’s marvelous matzo balls and her
special smile will always live on in my memory.
Besides texture, quantity is another big question. At the Passover Seder, we
believe that the fifth question should be “How many matzo balls would you like
– one or two?” The polite son replies “Two please, if you have enough!”
But the hungry son replies “I’ll have at least four!”
My friend Monty Joffin has vivid childhood memories of sitting at the
Passover table in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his older brother Ellie. Soup
spoons in hand, they waited eagerly for their mother, Tziva, to serve her
delicious matzo ball soup. According to Monty, she was famous for killing
vegetables because she always overcooked them, but her matzo balls were
As Monty recounted his story, he was overcome with the flavor of food
memories from his childhood. He sighed, “My mother’s matzo balls were huge
and wonderful. I can still remember exactly how they tasted. They were light and
fluffy, bigger than a golf ball, but slightly smaller than a tennis ball. If her
matzo balls were good, then all would be right with the world for the next year.
But if her matzo balls weren’t good, there would be worry and concern over
what might befall us until next Pesach!”
Their mother would wait to be judged by her two sons – and Monty would
usually have four matzo balls, much to her delight!
Monty still likes his matzo balls to be big and fluffy, but he makes them
from a mix. They come close to his mother’s version in appearance, but he
admits they are missing that special something that only a mother’s touch can
My mother, Belle Rykiss of Winnipeg, always makes matzo balls that are light
and “puchedich.” During the year, she adds baking powder to the mixture to
make them as light as a cloud. (You can omit it during Passover, or use Passover
baking powder.) Mom can always tell the difference between matzo balls made from
a mix and those that are homemade. You can never fool my mother! Enjoy…
MOM’S MATZO BALLS
Source: The NEW Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz
1/2 cup oil
1 cup matzo meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Passover baking powder
Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the Steel Blade just
until smooth, about 10 seconds. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour, or in freezer
for 20 minutes, until thickened.
Shape into small balls. Drop into boiling salted water in a large pot and
cook, partially covered, for about 40 minutes.
Yield: about 14 to 16. May be frozen in soup.
Freeze uncooked matzo ball mixture in ice cube trays. When needed, drop
frozen matzo balls in boiling water and cook partly covered for 35 to 40
minutes. Kids love them in different shapes!
LOW-FAT MATZO BALLS
Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz
Club soda is the secret ingredient to make these matzo balls light and
fluffy. Each matzo ball contains 25 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate and less than
a gram of fat.
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder, optional
1 egg plus 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs)
2 tbsp. club soda or ginger ale
1 tsp. oil
1 tbsp. minced fresh dill (or parsley)
2 1/2 quarts salted water
1. In a large bowl, combine matzo meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add
egg, egg whites, club soda, oil and dill. Mix until blended. Cover bowl and
refrigerate mixture for 30 to 60 minutes. It will thicken upon standing.
2. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Wetting your hands for
easier shaping, form mixture into 1-inch balls. Carefully add matzo balls to
pot, cover tightly and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. No peeking allowed!
3. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove matzo balls from water and transfer
to hot chicken soup or vegetable broth.
Yield: 12 matzo balls. Freezes well (see Chef’s Secrets, below).. This
recipe can be doubled easily, but be sure to use a large pot so the matzo balls
Matzo balls can be cooked in advance, then frozen in chicken soup. You can
also freeze them on a cookie sheet until firm, then transfer them to plastic
freezer bags. Store in the freezer until needed. You don’t need to defrost
them first. Just reheat the frozen matzo balls directly in the soup!
If you prefer firmer matzo balls, add 1 or 2 tbsp. additional matzo meal
to the matzo ball mixture.
CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZO BALLS OR PASSOVER NOODLES
You don’t have to be Jewish to love chicken soup! A steaming bowl of golden
broth is sure to cure colds or flu. Chicken soup is often called “Jewish
penicillin.” Some cooks like to add turnip or celery root to the broth.
“Chicken soup for the bowl” is the ultimate comfort food!
3 1/2 to 4 lbs. chicken, cut up
10 cups cold water (approximately)
4 tsp. salt
2 medium onions
4 to 6 medium carrots
3 to 4 stalks celery
1 parsnip (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh dill
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Matzo Balls or Herbed Passover Noodles (see below)
1. Trim excess fat from chicken, but don’t remove the skin as it adds
flavour. Place chicken in a large soup pot. Add water, covering chicken
completely by at least 1 inch. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Use
a slotted spoon to remove scum from the surface of the soup.
2. Add onions, carrots, celery and parsnip to pot. Reduce heat and simmer,
partly covered, for 1 1/4 hours. Add garlic and dill and simmer 15 minutes
longer. Adjust salt to taste. Season with freshly ground pepper. Remove pot from
heat and cool completely.
3. Strain soup, reserving carrots and chicken. Refrigerate overnight. The
next day, discard hardened layer of fat from surface of soup. Remove skin from
chicken and dice meat for soup. Reheat soup with diced chicken and carrots.
Serve with Matzo Balls or noodles.
Makes 8 generous servings. Freezes and reheats well.
HERBED PASSOVER NOODLES
Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz
These noodles are based on my recipe for Passover blintzes and are
1/2 cup potato starch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg plus 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs)
1 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1/4 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tsp. freshly minced dill or basil)
1. Combine potato starch, salt, egg and egg whites. Whisk together until no
lumps remain. Gradually whisk in water, oil and basil; mix until smooth. (Can be
done in a food processor.) Let batter stand for 15 minutes. Batter can be
refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.
2. Use a crepe pan or nonstick skillet. Grease pan lightly for the first
blintz, or spray pan with nonstick spray. Stir mixture well. Pour about 3 tbsp.
batter (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) into the skillet. Cook about
1 minute, until edges are brown and top surface is dry. Flip the blintz onto its
second side and cook 10 seconds longer. Turn out onto a clean tea towel.
3. Repeat with remaining batter, stirring occasionally to prevent potato
starch from settling to the bottom. If blintzes begin to stick to the pan,
grease pan with a little oil on a paper towel.
4. Roll each pancake up like a jelly roll and cut into 1/4-inch strips. At
serving time, add to hot chicken soup.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.