Kale and Herb Matzo Ball Soup
Matzo balls are a perfect, savory addition to a bowl of chicken soup and, of course, they’re a Passover favorite. Once made with the leftover crumbs of bakery-fresh matzo, these chewy dumplings were historically called klosse, knaidlach, or some other variation on those spellings — at least until the 1930s, when the U.S. Manischewitz company began selling them as “Alsatian feathery balls.” (A name that, frankly, makes us think of a certain “Saturday Night Live” sketch from 1998 starring Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon).
Luckily, that name didn’t stick — and nowadays, you can pick up a box of matzo meal and call it a day, which is what we’ve done here. In keeping with tradition, we’ve made our soup dumplings by mixing matzo meal with eggs and vegetable oil, but we’ve also added a couple tablespoons of finely chopped dill for a spring-y herbiness. And here’s a sneaky kitchen trick for you: we stirred it all up with seltzer water so the matzo balls turn out light, fluffy, and never mushy.
For the soup portion of this classic dish, we simmered a whole chicken in a big Dutch oven, along with your standard mirepoix, sweet fennel, garlic, and fresh herbs, to create a savory, aromatic broth. Then, we shredded the chicken and stirred it back in, adding dark, leafy Tuscan kale at the very end for a bit of greenery. Once you’ve ladled it over your bowls of divvied-up matzo balls, the finished product will look like spring put on some fuzzy socks: leafy, veggie-loaded, and speckled with bright green herbs, but also warm, steamy, and cozy.
The entire bowlscape (that’s landscape, but with a bowl) is so heartwarming. However, the real key to enjoying this meal is to craft the perfect spoonful: Break up the matzo balls and scoop up a morsel with shreds of chicken and a little bit of all the different herbs and veggies. It’ll make for a perfectly balanced bite that’s worthy of the main course for a simple, stay-at-home holiday celebration (or for a feel-good dinner on any old weekend).
Our tip: Matzo balls can be cooled to room temperature, then covered and stored in the fridge for up to one day. You can also make the soup one day in advance, stopping short of adding the kale, cooling to room temperature, and refrigerating in a covered container. Simply reheat, add the kale, and let it simmer for a few minutes before you’re ready to eat.
Kale and Herb Matzo Ball Soup
- To make the soup: In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine the chicken, celery, carrots, onions, fennel, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, and dill. Add enough cold water to cover all of the ingredients by 1 inch, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Skim off any foam that accumulates.
- While the soup is simmering, make the matzo balls: In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, matzo meal, seltzer water, dill, and salt with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep the water at a simmer.
- Using your hands, gently press a small amount of matzo batter into a 1-inch ball — avoid squeezing or rolling your matzo. Drop the ball into simmering water. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Cover the pot and gently simmer the matzo balls until they are tender and puffy, about 40 to 45 minutes. Drain the matzo balls, return them to the pot, and keep them covered in a warm place until you’re ready to use them.
- Remove the chicken and vegetables from the chicken broth with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a cutting board. Let them cool until they’re safe to handle.
- Meanwhile, strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding the solids. Return the strained broth to the pot, and bring it to a simmer.
- Using your fingers, remove the chicken meat from the bones and shred it into bite-size pieces.
- Slice the vegetables into bite-size pieces.
- Add the chicken, vegetables, and kale to the broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the soup generously with salt and pepper.
- Divide the matzo balls among 8 bowls and ladle the soup on top. Garnish with chopped parsley and dill.
Recipe adapted from: Epicurious