It ain't Passover without matzo ball soup. Of course, there is some general disagreement as to what makes the perfect ball. Some swear by butter, others schmaltz (rendered chicken fat, from the German word "to melt"). Some cook in broth, others separately in salt water. Some crowd the pot with balls, others give them room to mingle. Some like them soft and light, others prefer dense and hard. I could go on and on. The Jews are happy to study and debate any topic to death (see the Midrash) The recipe I followed (butter, salt water, crowded leading to soft and light) comes from Bon Appétit and is overly and unnecessarily complex. I've done my best to trim it down. I find that you can just cook the balls in the soup and I reduce the amount of veggies that go into the broth (because my biggest pot is only 8 quarts). If you have a bigger pot and are serving more than 8 people, by all means add all the veggies.
The recipe calls for the soup to only have the broth and matzo balls, but, they say (as if you need permission) you can add a piece of chicken and/or thick slice of vegetable to each bowl. Later this week, I'll show you what I did with the chicken meat.
Lemon-scented Chicken Soup with Parsley-Sage Matzo Balls
1 4 1/2- to 5-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
5 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 pound onions, quartered
3/4 pound carrots, peeled, thickly sliced
4 large celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 large fresh dill sprigs
10 large fresh Italian parsley sprigs
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 thin lemon slices
Parsley-Sage Matzo Balls
4 large eggs
5 tablespoons stick margarine / butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/4 cups matzo meal
1/2 cup club soda
First make the matzo batter: Whisk eggs in medium bowl until frothy. Whisk in melted margarine, salt, and pepper, then herbs. Gradually mix in matzo meal. Stir in club soda. Cover and chill batter until cold and firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. [I got away with chilling for 1 hour]
While that's chillin', make the broth: [Place chicken in large bowl. Add boiling water to cover. Let stand 2 minutes; drain well. Using small knife, scrape skin to remove any surface fat. Rinse with cold water; drain again.--all this I found totally unnecessary, although the first time I made the soup, I did this step]
Bring 5 quarts water to boil in heavy large pot. Add chicken. Return to boil, skimming impurities . Cook until broth is clear, skimming as needed and stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Partially cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until chicken and vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add dill and parsley to soup; simmer 3 minutes. Strain into clean pot.
Then cook the balls: Using wet hands and 1 heaping teaspoonful (hmm...the print edition says 1 level tablespoon) for each, shape batter into matzo balls. Drop matzo balls into soup. Cover partially and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until matzo balls are tender, about 1 hour.
Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Add 1 lemon slice and matzo balls to each. [Maybe it's because I had to use lime, but I really didn't like the lime juice addition. The second time I made this, I left it out and was much happier with the result]