How to Master Matzo Ball Soup
There's a very good reason why Matzo Ball Soup is the most popular Passover dish: It's delicious, comforting, and guaranteed to evoke childhood memories of holidays spent with family. Our recipe hits the trifecta with rich broth, fluffy matzo balls, and stealth (and not so stealth) flavorings. Here, you'll find our insider tips for acing this recipe and making the perfect bowl of matzo ball soup.
This is not a time for watery flavorless broth—but then again, is there ever a time for that? It is time, however, to turn a perfectly acceptable broth into a broth so delicious you might find yourself pouring a mug to sip all on its own. To do this, you will need a surprising ingredient: Chicken feet. We know, it sounds a little unappetizing, but trust us on this. They not only bring extra flavor to your finished dish, but their addition also results in a magic ingredient that will add the most lovely texture to the soup: collagen. It's collagen that adds that all-important stick-to-your lips, almost creamy mouthfeel. If chicken feet are unavailable, or if you have a hard time with the whole idea, adding a few pounds of chicken wings when you make the stock will do almost as good a job. Remember when you strain the broth to skip pressing on the solids in the strainer; this will keep the broth nice and clear.
The Matzo Balls
There is a big debate about what makes the ultimate matzo ball. Should it be light and fluffy, or firm and substantial? We are on Team Fluffy, and we have a few tricks that will help you get just that. First, skip regular water and use seltzer water instead to moisten the batter. The bubbles will help keep the batter airy and light. The next trick is to make sure you don't over mix the batter; you want to keep all of that lovely air the seltzer just added intact. You will notice that the batter will be pretty wet. To help it from sticking to your hands when forming the balls, run them under water and shake off the excess. Then, using damp hands, roll the batter gently between your palms into balls. Again, remember not to press too hard, but just enough to gently form the balls.
For the broth, think about the aromatics. Start with onion and/or garlic, then think about adding something surprising, like a knob of ginger or strip of lemon zest for a surprising zing. To be sure the matzo balls don't fall flat in terms of flavor, be sure to add a little schmaltz (chicken fat) for even more chicken flavor. You can also mix in a touch of fresh herbs and spices, such as parsley, dill, and celery seed. Simmer a few sliced carrots and celery stalks with the broth for both flavor, looks, and texture.