This is my wife, Holly’s, matzo ball soup. She got the recipe from a Jewish grandmother she knew in her youth. This venerable grandma did the traditional matzo ball soup, which included the ubiquitous noodles and carrots. The granddaughter of this amazing lady was a modern type, and she enhanced the recipe by adding such things as wild rice or a wild rice blend (rather than the noodles and carrots). The recipe then passed down to Holly who made it her own through trial and error.
Since my early days in Spanish Harlem, I have loved matzo ball soup. If you’ve lived in New York city you can’t help but be exposed and influence by it’s Jewish cultural element. I surely did. In terms of restaurants, the best matzo ball soup I’ve had come from two places, the 2nd Avenue Deli (which is now on 1st avenue) and Fine and Shapiro on West 72nd Street. I have been frequenting both places for years. However, nothing compares to Holly’s dish. It’s traditional but different at the same time. And it’s fulsome, homey comfort food.
You’ll note that in the recipe below, in place of the traditional chicken fat, you can substitute Crisco shortening, vegetable oil or olive oil. It all depends on how health conscious you are. Whichever you use, it does not affect the flavor of the final product.
HOLLY’S MATZO BALL SOUP
8 cups chicken broth
2 whole boneless chicken breasts, about 1-1½ pounds each.
2 tablespoons chicken fat, Crisco, vegetable or olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons soup stock
1 cup wild rice or wild rice blend
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
- In a large pot, bring 4 cups of the chicken broth to a boil. Add whole boneless chicken breasts, lower heat and simmer, covered, until breasts are tender, 1 to 1½ hours.
- While chicken breasts are cooking, make matzo balls: In a medium bowl, blend oil and eggs. Stir in matzo meal to egg mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of the soup sock and mix well. Cover mixing bowl and place in refrigerator.
- Remove chicken from pot, cut breasts into bite-sized pieces, and place back in pot. Add additional 4 cups broth, wild rice (or wild rice blend) , salt, pepper and dill. Again, bring to a boil, lower heat and cook, covered.
- Meanwhile, remove matzo meal from fridge, wet hands and shape mixture into matzo balls. We like them big, so we shape them into the size of golf balls. They do get bigger when you cook them. You should have about 8 to 12 balls, depending on size. Drop balls into stock pot, bring stock back to a boil, lower heat and simmer until matzo balls enlarge and float, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Yield: 6-8 servings.