Spring Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Makes8 to 10 servings
  • Active time: 1 hr
    Total time: 5 hr
The key to a delicious matzoh ball soup is in the broth: lots of vegetables and aromatics, including slices of ginger root for a bit of heat, make a perfect vehicle for these matzoh balls. Matzoh balls can be a very personal thing: some like them light and fluffy, while others fall into the “hard as golf balls” camp. Filled with lots of fresh parsley and dill, these dumplings fall somewhere in between: not feather light, not too hard, but with just enough bite and presence to stand up to its flavorful broth.
Published in Gourmet Live 04.06.11


For Soup:

  • 3 medium leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds), top 2 inches of dark green parts discarded, then halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into thirds
  • 5 large carrots (about 1 pound), cut into thirds
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into thirds
  • 1 (4- to 4 1/2-pound) chicken (giblets and liver removed)
  • 1 small head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh ginger (unpeeled but skin scrubbed); from one 1/2-ounce piece
  • 15 long fresh flat leaf parsley stems
  • 15 long fresh dill stems
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 quarts cold water

For Matzoh Balls:

  • 1 cup matzoh meal, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (reserved from recipe below)
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Dill sprigs for garnish


Cook Broth:

  • Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating them to remove all sand and grit, then lift out and transfer to an 8-quart stockpot.
  • Add all remaining broth ingredients to pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, skimming foam occasionally, 3 hours.

Make Matzoh Balls:

  • Stir together matzoh meal, parsley, dill, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
  • Work rendered chicken fat into mixture with your fingers until incorporated, then stir in 1/2 cup broth from chicken and yolks. Mixture will be stiff.
  • Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in another bowl until they just form soft peaks.
  • Stir one-third of egg whites into matzoh mixture to lighten, and then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Chill, covered, 30 minutes. If after chilled, matzoh is still not firm, add 1 tablespoon additional matzoh meal.

Finish Soup:

  • Transfer chicken from broth to a cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, tear chicken into shreds, discarding skin and bones.
  • Remove carrots from broth and once cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Line a large sieve with a double layer of dampened paper towels. Pour broth through sieve into a a 5- to 6-quart pot, pressing hard on and discarding solids. Return broth to a simmer.
  • With dampened hands, gently form chilled matzoh mixture into roughly 1-inch balls, gently dropping them into simmering soup as formed (this should yield about 20 matzoh balls; moisten hands as necessary to prevent sticking).
  • Simmer matzoh balls, covered, until just cooked through, about 45 minutes (To test: Halve one matzoh ball. It should have a uniformly moist interior; if uncooked, it will be dry in the center).
  • Stir carrots and chicken into hot soup to warm through before serving.
  • Garnish with dill sprigs.


  • Soup (with matzoh balls) can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until completely cooled, then cover.
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