We had a delicious Seder meal last night hosted by Josh and Alex. They were quite the busy men (read: mostly Alex), cooking up lots of delicious brisket and chicken for all of us. Special mention to Kelaine's amazing cheesecake that I gobbled up and then put a piece in Mark's pocket to sneak it home. I'm not sure he'll appreciate it. Luckily Mama Bard sent down some really fun Seder Haggadah books so that everyone could follow along during the dinner. I couldn't let a perfectly good opportunity to make my favorite soup pass me by. I made up a matzo ball soup to share and I was quite proud of the results. Matzo ball soup is best made in stages and then assembled. I cook the vegetables, chicken, and matzo ball separately and then combine them to serve. That way, each item is cooked properly. I also love to use fennel in the soup. It isn't really a traditional ingredient, but I think it gives a special flavor and texture. Fennel is a love-it-or-hate-it type of vegetable. It looses it's traditional anise flavor and takes on a mellow roundness in the soup, but you can certainly omit it if you are averse. This soup is great for Passover celebrations, but it is also just a wonderful light dinner for any table.
Matzo Ball Soup (serves 18)
4 split chicken breasts
64 oz. (2 cartons) chicken broth
6 cups water
6 medium carrots
6 celery stalks
1 bulb fennel
1 box Matzo ball mix (both packets)
4 Tbs. vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1. To give maximum flavor and texture, I roast the chicken and then cube it and add it to the soup. To roast the chicken, place it on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes until still very juicy and just cooked through. Set aside the roasted chicken until you are ready to add to the broth.
2. Chop the onions, celery, fennel bulb (save the leaves for later), and carrots into 1/2 inch pieces. Put 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables along with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
3. Sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes. Then add the stock and water and bring to a simmer.
4. Add the chopped chicken to the simmering soup and cook this mixture together for about 45 minutes so that the flavors meld together. I also like to add about 3-4 Tbs. coarsely chopped fennel leaves for flavor and texture.
5. To make the matzo balls, follow the instructions in your box. I always make lots because they are the best part, so I used both packets. Mine called for 4 eggs and 4 Tbs. vegetable oil. Chill the mixture for 15 minutes so that you can easily roll out the matzo balls.
6. Roll out small matzo balls that are slightly less than 1 inch. They will really plump up when cooked, so you want to start them off small so they have room to grow.
Matzo balls are best when they are served fresh, so you can keep the balls refrigerated and covered with a damp paper towel until you are about ready to assemble the soup.
7. When you are getting ready to serve, add the matzo balls to a pot of boiling water. Give them a quick stir so that they don't stick together. Let them cook for 20 minutes until they are tender all the way through.
8. Add the plump matzo balls to the hot soup.
Serve the soup up to your very happy guests.
Thanks to the Bards for welcoming us for dinner! Great Seder.
I even got to put my beautiful Seder Plate to good use! I was so proud.