Joan Nathan’s Chosen Matzo Ball Soup

Joan Nathan’s Chosen Matzo Ball Soup

For the soup:
1 large chicken (about 4 pounds)
2 large onions, unpeeled
4 parsnips
2 stalks celery and their leaves
6 carrots
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons snipped dill
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Matzo balls:
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or vegetable oil
4 tablespoons chicken stock
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, dill, or cilantro
1 teaspoon salt, more for cooking
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Put the chicken and enough water to cover by two inches, about 4 quarts, in a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Skim off the froth as it rises to the top.

Add the onions, parsnips, celery, carrots, parsley, 4 tablespoons of the dill, and the salt and pepper. Half-cover and simmer for at least an hour and up to 2 hours, adjusting the seasoning to taste.

Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight so the liquid solidifies. When the fat rises to the top, skim it off and reserve for the matzo balls.

To make the matzo balls, using a spoon, gently mix the eggs, schmaltz, stock, matzo meal, nutmeg, ginger, and parsley, dill, or cilantro in a large bowl. Season with salt and 2-3 grinds of the pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour or overnight.

To shape and cook the matzo balls, bring a wide, deep pot of lightly salted water to a boil. With wet hands, take some of the mix and mold it into the size and shape of a golf ball. Gently drop it into the boiling water, repeating until all the mix is used.

Cover the pan, reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook for about 20 minutes for al dente matzo balls, closer to 45 for lighter matzo balls. To test their readiness, remove one with a slotted spoon and cut in half. The matzo ball should be the same color and texture throughout.

Just before serving, strain the soup, setting aside the chicken for chicken salad and discarding the vegetables, and reheat the broth. Spoon a matzo ball into each bowl, pour soup over matzo ball, and sprinkle with the remaining snipped dill.

Yield: 10 to 12 matzo balls

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