The first time is tasted matzoh ball soup was a Seder, which my next door neighbor invited me to. The Sands lived next door. They along with a large segment of the neighborhood families were Jewish. I was brought up Catholic and had never had an opportunity to witness other religious observances first hand. I must say I was really taken by the experience. I remember the seriousness of it, the sense of connection that the ritual had which stretched through oceans of time. I really admire the beauty of Judaism, it’s very comforting or at least that was my impression.
Although I was 12, I was allowed to drink the wine. These days they would probably get arrested for plying me with wine but It was part of the evening and I went with it. Mrs. Sands was an excellent cook. She could make some mean Italian food as well, but tonight I was in for a treat. They brought out the soup, that magic matzoh ball soup. I have to tell you I was hooked. I was fortunate to get some of the best matzoh ball soup I have ever eaten, to this day. In years after I would ask her from time to time for a batch. So thanks to the Sands for sharing a beautiful evening with me. I never expressed to you the impression that night I spent at your seder had on me. And of course, you hooked me on Matzoh ball soup.
The word matzo means “unleavened bread”. The history of the matzoh can be traced back to the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. If you have ever seen the movie the “Ten Commandments”, you get the picture.
It is believed that there was not enough time for the bread to rise as people escaped their bondage. The bread, made without yeast, was cooked in the desert most likely on hot rocks baked in the sun.
Passover is one of the holiest holidays in the Jewish culture, also known as the “Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread”, it is a celebration of deliverance. Its purpose is to remember and learn from this period of Jewish history. Eating matzah is a reminder of poverty and humility.
Since the bread is relatively tasteless inventive ways to add flavor were incorporated. Grinding the matzoh into meal, adding eggs, oil, seltzer, and seasoning created wonderful results. Basically a dumpling, the matzoh ball is boiled in broth. The result matzoh ball soup. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it and it’s fun to make. It does require a bit skill the get the matzoh balls just right.
3 Tbsp. Chicken fat (olive oil can be substituted)
2 Tbsp. seltzer water
1½ cups matzoh ground
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 scallion, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
½ tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 quarts chicken stock (canned or homemade)
2 cloves garlic, cut and pressed
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 large onion
2 bay leaves
oil and water
Separate eggs. Add egg yolks, olive oil, and seltzer water, blend. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and combine the egg yolk mixture slowly.Add the matzoh, herbs, salt, and pepper. Chill for 2 hours.
In a large saucepan, combine chicken stock, carrot, garlic, onion, celery and bay leaves, bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover.
Wet hands with a bit of oil or water and form small balls out of the matzoh mixture.
Roll one golf ball-size matzo ball. Place matzo ball in the simmering stock to test the mixture. If the ball falls apart add more matzoh. When desired consistency is reached,
roll all of the mixture into golf ball size spheres.
Gently add them to the simmering stock and cover. Cook for approximately 45 minutes. Keep pot covered. Remove bay leaves when done and serve.
The key is not to add too much or too little matzoh. Too much and the balls will be too heavy too little they will fall apart.