August 4, 2017

Matzo ball soup is a time-honored tradition of Jewish cooking, commonly enjoyed during Passover. However, Colorado culinary arts students can try making their own any time they want to add a fun and tasty touch to chicken soup. When you have a batch of these dumplings, you’ll be well on your way to creating a tasty and distinctive appetizer.

An old-school pot of matzo ball soup takes some preparation, so be sure to plan ahead. Luckily, both the matzo balls and stock can be made a day ahead and chilled. Follow these tips to make a tasty and downright satisfying soup.

1. Pack the stock with flavor

Great matzo ball soup starts with quality chicken stock. Bon Appetit provided directions for a hearty broth that’s perfectly complemented by the dumplings. The recipe calls for four or five pounds of chicken separated into eight pieces, plus another pound of wings, necks and backs.

The chicken goes into a large stockpot with two onions cut into quarters, six chopped stalks of celery, four peeled and cut carrots, a peeled and chopped parsnip, a halved garlic head, a quartered shallot, black peppercorns and parsley. Throw in 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, simmering for about 20 minutes or until the chicken cooks through.

Remove the breasts and set them aside to cool. Cut off the meat and shred, placing the bones back in the stock. Wrap the meat and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add it to the soup.

Keep simmering the stock for another two hours, occasionally skimming solids. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain into a saucepan.

2. Get the density of matzo just right

Achieving the best results with your matzo balls is about striking the ideal balance, so they are substantial but not overly heavy. The New York Times suggested a method that yields balls with both the necessary density and spices for added flavor.

Begin by mixing schmalz, or rendered chicken fat, with four eggs, chicken stock, nutmeg, ginger, parsley, salt, pepper and a cup of matzo meal. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Fill a large pan with lightly salted water and heat to a boil. Moistening your hands, take pieces of the matzo mix and form into ping pong-sized balls. Continue placing the balls in the boiling water until the mix is gone.

Cover the pan and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the balls reach your preferred level of doneness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the balls and place them in the chicken broth. Assemble the soup by adding in the reserved chicken, plus some veggies. Diced and simmered carrots and celery make an excellent addition to the soup’s texture and flavor.

3. Experiment with inventive variations

There’s no denying the comfort of a classic matzo ball soup, but culinary academy students may soon want to try out something a little more daring. There are plenty of ways to put an intriguing spin on this old favorite.

For instance, Epicurious offered a recipe that pairs leek and ginger-flavored matzo balls with a lemongrass consomme. Preparing six servings of the broth calls for two quartered chickens, four lemongrass stalks, two garlic cloves,  two celery stalks, lime peel, half an onion, a leek, ginger and 18 cups of water. After bringing the broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer for two hours and occasionally skim. Then, strain into a saucepan, adding lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Matzo balls are a sure way to make chicken soup more exciting. With a little creativity, you can also put your own stamp on this beloved dish.