Classic Matzo Ball Soup for Passover, Hanukkah, or Yom Kippur…or when you’re feeling under the weather! Anyone can enjoy this, any time of year. It’s pure comfort and like a warm hug from your grandma!
Ah, Matzo Ball Soup from my childhood. There’s nothing quite like it! Matzo Balls are Jewish dumplings made up of matzo meal, eggs, and schmaltz (chicken fat), which are typically served in chicken soup and a staple for a lot of Jewish holidays.
So, let’s get a few things straight right off the bat – there are as many Matzo Ball Soup recipes out there as there are shoes in my closet (that’s a lot!) – some insist on the the Matzo balls be cooked in water, while others cook them in the soup. I’ve even heard of the matzo balls being cooked in seltzer water. Matzo Balls made with chicken fat or vegetable oil, homemade chicken stock or store bought, and some would never dream of putting noodles in their soup like I do. It’s all a matter of preference. As my mom would say, “We don’t stand on ceremony.” We just like what we like!
Tips for the best Matzo Ball Soup
Even with all those variations out there, for the best Matzo Ball Soup, I do recommend following these tips.
- Use Matzo Meal. These are matzo balls, which means you want matzo meal (finely ground matzo crackers), so this is a nonnegotiable. Not saltine crackers, ritz crackers, butter crackers, etc. Matzo meal is fairly easy to find at most grocery stores.
- For the soup, use stock instead of broth. But aren’t they the same thing? They are similar, but ingredients and cooking time set them apart. Broth is made using meat instead of bones and requires only a couple hours to cook. Stock is made up of the chicken bones which are cooked with vegetables for four times as long. Stock has a richer flavor due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones.
- Don’t substitute vegetable oil for the schmaltz. Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat and what gives the matzo balls their rich flavor. Plain vegetable oil lends zero flavor and will leave the matzo balls bland. You can make your own schmaltz, look for it in the kosher section of your local grocery store, freezer section, or ask the butcher.
- Should I cook the matzo balls in water or the chicken stock? I’ve done it both ways! Cooking the matzo balls in the stock gives them a lot more flavor and also saves you from dirtying up another pot. Basically, it’s easier and more delicious. But this does render less soup (since the balls soak it up!) and the starch makes the soup a little cloudy. If you want crystal-clear soup and also more of it, cook the matzo balls in 2 quarts of well-salted simmering water, then remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the soup just before serving. (The instructions in the written recipe card include the latter, since I also boil up egg noodles and use that water to make the matzo balls.)
- Add some cooked chicken and egg noodles to the soup. Ok, this part is not traditional at all and purely optional, but I never make my matzo ball soup without some shredded chicken or egg noodles. It’s like a cross between Matzo Ball Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup – the best of both worlds!
This is one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes and one I make all year round, especially in the winter months. Sometimes I make extra matzo balls because my kids fight over them!
While Matzo Ball Soup is a traditional recipe to serve at Passover, you can make it any time during the year – you don’t need to be Jewish or celebrate Passover to enjoy it. At the very least, you need to make it the next time you come down with a bad cold. I promise you’ll feel better. It really is like medicine…the best tasting medicine.
Other family recipes we love!
Other delicious soup recipes!
- Easy Tomato Soup
- Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
- Lemon Orzo Meatball Soup
- One-Pot Beef Stroganoff Soup
- Slow Cooker Taco Soup
How To Make this Matzo Ball Soup Recipe
Matzo Ball Soup
For the Matzo Balls
- 2 extra large eggs
- 2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
- 1/2 cup matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the Soup
- 6 large carrots , peeled and ends trimmed, cut into thirds
- 3 stalks celery , peeled, cut in half and tied together
- 1 large sweet onion , outer skin removed, kept whole
- 7 cups homemade chicken stock (or store bought)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill
- 12 ounces cooked egg noodles , optional
- 2 cups roasted chicken pieces , optional
- For the matzo balls, beat the eggs and chicken fat together in a small bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the matzo meal, salt, and baking powder. Add in the egg mixture and gently mix with a fork until just combined (do not over mix!) Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- For fluffy matzo balls, gently shape dough with your hands into 10, 1-inch balls (they will expand quite a bit as they cook.) When shaping the balls, don't compress the dough too much or you'll lose that light, airy texture. They don't need to be perfectly round.
- In the meantime, place carrots, celery, onion, chicken stock, salt, and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Stir in fresh dill. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- While the soup is simmering, bring salted water to boil in another large pot. Drop matzo balls into the bubbling water (they will sink), lower heat, cover pot and let gently simmer for 20-25 minutes until all the balls float to the top.
- Discard onion and celery from the soup.
- Place carrots, 1-2 matzo balls, noodles (if using), and chicken pieces (if using) into bowls and ladle soup on top. Serve hot and enjoy!
- Calorie count does not include noodles or chicken.
- Make sure to read the recipe tips and suggestions in the full article in order to get the best flavored matzo balls!