Israeli Matzo Ball Soup is very popular especially around Passover. During Passover Jews abstain from eating all leavened foods. Instead they eat matzoh, a flat crackerlike bread. This is in memory of the Exodus from Israel, when the Jews could not wait for their bread to rise, and carried it out on their backs to bake in the sun. This recipe does have baking powder in it which if being made for Passover should be eliminated and substituted with two tablespoons of seltzer water to keep the light airy deliciousness of the matzo balls. This recipe takes some time, over a day so plan ahead. Also don’t pass on making the schmalz (chicken fat) it is traditional and also what makes the matzo balls so wonderful. Also the clear broth is delicious. Enjoy!
Israeli Matzo Ball Soup
- For the schmaltz and the broth
- 1-1/2 lb. chicken wings about 8
- Kosher salt
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and halved
- 3 large carrots peeled and halved crosswise
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- For the matzo balls
- 1/2 cup matzo meal or 2-1/4 matzo crackers, finely ground
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder or use 2 Tablespoons seltzer water for passover
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the soup
- 1/2 large yellow onion diced
- 2 medium carrots sliced into 2" pieces
- 2 medium celery ribs cut into 1/2" pieces
- Kosher salt
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Make the schmaltz and the broth
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
- Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer on a rack with a tray beneath to catch the fat. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Roast, flipping once, until the fat from the wings has rendered (this is schmaltz) and the wings are golden brown, about 45 minutes.
- Pour the schmaltz into a small bowl to cool; you should have about 2 Tbs.
- In a large pot Cover the wings with 3 inches of cool water (about 1 gallon). Bring to a simmer over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat down to low, and cook uncovered, for at least 4 and up to 6 hours.
- Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf, peppercorns, and 1 tsp. salt, turn the heat up to medium high, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook about 1 1/2 hour.
- Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, and then strain it again through cheesecloth or heavy-duty paper towels into another bowl. You should have about 8 cups of broth; if you have less, add water to make 8 cups.
- Skim any fat that rises to the top of the broth, transfer it to the bowl of schmaltz, and refrigerate until solidified, about 20 minutes.
- Make the matzo balls
- Combine the matzo meal, eggs, 2 Tbs. of the schmaltz, 2 Tbs. of the broth, the baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl, gently stirring until thickened, about 1 minute. The mixture should be a sticky paste that holds together but is not heavy or dense; if you need to add more broth to achieve this consistency, add 1 Tbs. at a time, up to 1/4 cup more total. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Using wet hands, very gently form rounded tablespoonfuls of the matzo mixture into 12 1-inch balls, transferring them to a plate. Do not overwork or compress the mixture, or the matzo balls will be dense.
- Make the soup
- Heat 2 Tbs. schmaltz (or, if you don’t have enough schmaltz, add vegetable oil to make 2 Tbs. of fat) in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and browned at the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt, if necessary.
- With wet hands, add the matzo balls to the soup and return it to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the matzo balls are cooked through and doubled in size, about 30 minutes (no need to turn them). Insert a toothpick into the center of a matzo ball and if it slides in and out without resistance, they’re done. Serve the soup garnished with the parsley.