Smoked Matzo Ball Soup
To create a rich, flavorful stock, Chef Michael Solomonov calls for smoking one of the chickens along with half of the vegetables. The recipe yields more stock than you will need for the soup. Refrigerate or freeze the rest for another use.
For the stock and chickens:
- 2 whole chickens
- 4 yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
- 4 garlic heads, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 3 1/2 gallons water
- 1/2 cup black peppercorns
For the matzo balls:
- 4 Tbs. canola oil or chicken fat
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 bunches of ramp tops, roughly chopped, or 2 bunches of spinach, trimmed and leaves chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper. to taste
To prepare the stock and chickens, place 1 chicken and half of the onions, garlic and carrots in a smoker and smoke on high for about 15 minutes. Transfer the smoked chicken and vegetables to a large stockpot. Add the water and peppercorns and simmer for 4 hours, skimming off the foam every 25 minutes. Strain the stock, reserving the chicken and discarding the vegetables.
Place the other chicken and the remaining onions, garlic and carrots in a stockpot, pour in the stock and simmer for 2 hours. Strain the stock, reserving the chicken and discarding the vegetables. Shred the meat from both chickens, discarding the skin and bones. Set the shredded chicken aside.
To prepare the matzo balls, in a bowl, stir together the canola oil, eggs, matzo meal, salt and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Using your hands, shape the matzo mixture into 1-oz. balls. In a stockpot, bring the stock to a boil, add the matzo balls and simmer until they are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ramp tops or spinach and sauté, stirring occasionally until wilted. Season with salt.
To serve, divide the shredded chicken and sautéed ramps or spinach among 8 bowls. Add 2 matzo balls to each bowl and ladle in some stock. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 8.
Recipe by Chef Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia.