Chicken-Vegetable Soup with Herbed Matzo Balls
Matzo balls are delicious when made with rendered chicken fat, known as schmaltz. You can purchase it bottled or frozen, or you can render your own (see Note).
- 1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 lb., cut into pieces, skin
and fat removed and reserved for making
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into slices 1/2 inch
- 3 celery stalks, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into slices 1/2 inch
- 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
- 10 cups water, or as needed
- Salt, to taste
- 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the matzo balls:
- 1/4 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz)
or vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup seltzer water or other sparkling water
In a large pot, combine the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsnip, tomato and dill. Add enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming periodically, until the chicken is cooked and the soup is full flavored, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the chicken and reserve for another use. Season the broth with salt. Add the parsley and simmer for 1 minute. Keep warm over very low heat.
Meanwhile, make the matzo balls: In a bowl, whisk together the schmaltz and eggs. Add the matzo meal, parsley and salt and whisk to combine. Add the seltzer water and whisk until blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Using your hands, a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, shape the matzo mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Reduce the heat to medium-low and drop the balls into the barely simmering water. Cover the pot and simmer until the matzo balls are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
Place a matzo ball in each soup bowl and ladle in the vegetable soup. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: To make schmaltz, dice the reserved chicken skin and fat into 1-inch pieces. Place in a heavy-bottomed fry pan over medium-low heat and cook, turning the skin and fat occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Make sure the pan never gets so hot as to cause the rendered fat to smoke. Let the fat cool, then pour it into a glass container and refrigerate; it will keep for 1 to 2 days refrigerated. The fat will harden, so when ready to use, place it in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until softened.
Diane Rossen Worthington, Author, Seriously Simple (Chronicle Books, 2002).