Matzo Ball Soup and Passover 2015

Matzo Ball Soup requires great chicken soup and a perfect matzo ball. However that is determined by whoever is eating the matzo ball!

Matzo Ball Chicken Soup

Matzo ball soup is chicken soup with a matzo ball dumpling. Cooks always argue about how to make the best chicken soup and the best matzo balls. Matzo balls are alway open for discussion. Keep in mind there are two camps on matzoh balls. I prefer mine a bit dense so I am of the sinker camp. There are others that prefer floaters. In other words, some like them light and fluffy and others like them dense and a bit chewy. These dumplings (which is really what they are) are always argued about.

Matzo balls are made from ground up matzo which is labeled matzo meal. Matzo meal is ground up matzo made from flour and water, and is similar t breadcrumbs. There is no leavening in matzo. Passover is a holiday where no rising agents are used because when we were slaves in Egypt we had to leave before our bread had risen. Think back to when Charlton Heston as Moses was rushing everyone to leave! For matzo to be kosher it must be made and baked in under 18 minutes.

So where to start? Learning to make a good chicken soup should be mandatory for any cook. It isn’t hard and can be adapted to your own taste. But matzo ball chicken soup is so traditional that I don’t often vary what I do. (It took me a long time to come to this conclusion but it tends to make life easier, especially on Passover.) And if you want to keep things really simple there is no need to make matzo balls. Really. I admit to using  Manischewitz matzo ball mix. My mother told me about matzo ball soup mix many years ago. So let’s keep it our secret, shall we?

Matzo Ball Soup

But a few tips on matzo balls:

Save the chicken fat from the soup and use that to make your balls (whether homemade balls or not.)! But how do you get chicken fat? You can buy chicken fat at the grocery in the frozen section or you can make it yourself by cooking chicken skin very slowly until it releases the fat. But when you make chicken soup and chill it-which you should always do to get the clearest broth- the chicken fat rises to the surface. Just take a spoon and skim it off and you have chicken fat!

Be sure to season your matzo balls well. Many do not salt them enough which makes them bland. I also like a touch of pepper and garlic powder. Remember not to pack them too tightly into balls. They will surely be dense if you do. And most importantly do not crowd your matzoh balls in the pot. They need space to expand. If you’ve never cooked a matzo ball they drop to the bottom when you drop them into the soup pot. But they quickly bounce back up where they cook while covered for about 40 minutes. If they are to close together they don’t get cooked and then they really are sinkers.

Matzo balls also soak up liquid so sometimes I precook my matzoh balls in chicken broth made from Better than Bouillon because I don’t want to use up my chicken soup. My mother swore by College Inn but I can’t find that here. Cook the matzo balls and let them drain. If you aren’t using them right away they can be placed  in a plastic container with plastic wrap between the layers. Then freeze them and let them thaw before putting them  in the actual soup to heat up.

Matzo ball soup

Chicken Soup cures everything, some say. Well, I’m sure glad I had some matzo ball soup leftover from our Seder, because I needed some soothing. Between all the comings and goings, I now have an empty house and that is taking some getting used to. Sunday found Manservant leaving early for Sweden and almost not getting there because United wanted to hold him in the US since his passport expires in three months.

(If you are ready to cook just skip down to the recipe!)

It appears that the airlines get fined if they let someone fly to a country where they violate passport rules. Well, Manservant being Manservant, had checked with Swedish border patrol and they said no problem. The problem was when United wouldn’t check with Sweden. After speaking with border patrol on the phone they finally let him pass but didn’t mention they managed to pull his baggage from the flight which he conveniently found out about when he arrived in Stockholm.


Alex also left on Sunday. He discovered that if you fly Southwest and don’t show for the first segment of your itinerary, they cancel the entire itinerary. He found himself having to buy a last minute seat to LAX because Southwest canceled him on his way over. It appears that when one is flying over the Pacific on a 6 hour delayed flight, that one should still find a way to let Southwest know they won’t be making their flight. Now had he booked two one way flights on Southwest, his flight back to LAX wouldn’t have been canceled. Yes, I have filed a major complaint with Southwest, who I used to adore. Word to the wise: Never fly Southwest if you are coming in from overseas, especially if you think your flight will be delayed. And never, ever, book Southwest as a round trip. They may let you take free luggage but trust me, they have found ways to recoup their costs!


So after seeing Manservant off and Alex rebooking his flight, we sat down for a breakfast of matzo brei. Matzo brei is a Jewish version of migas, and is quite good, if I say so myself. It can be prepared sweet or savory and I should make it for you, but I didn’t. After brunch, it was time to take my folks to the airport and luckily they had no problems!


We then came home and Alex had numerous female visitors, which left him packing late in the afternoon. Zoe and I took him for the 45 minute one way drive to the airport about 8pm. We then came home where I proceeded to pass out!

Monday found us heading up to Greeley to see PUPPIES! It’s getting close and soon I will be able to take one home permanently. I will always miss George and this isn’t his replacement; it is just one more way to add that special Skye magic back to my life. So take a look at this, why don’t you? George was a black Skye.These pups are born black but they will change color. I know you can only see their heads but soon they are expected to have white bodies and a black muzzle, ears and tail! Any puppy tips, I need to know?

Girl and puppies
Zoe and puppy

Tuesday Zoe and I left the house at 5:15AM for my last trip to good old DIA. (At least until next week). She made it with 5 minutes to spare because TSA didn’t have enough agents at security. She said many others were in the same boat and her flight was half empty. I’m sure glad she made it because I did not want to turn around! BUT, I would have, because it was Zoe and I love her.

So now I’m faced with catch up. My house is dirty again and the floors are gray. I have two extra sets of sheets and towels to wash and lots of matzo crumbs to sweep up. My heart is full, but it is a bittersweet full, because I so loved having my family around. The time with Alex was way to short. First he headed to Salt Lake for a college ski reunion. He then came home and his friends popped out of the woodwork. Last he went to Vail to see his old homies and I stayed here and cooked! Don’t know when we’ll see him again, but we are planning on attending a wedding in Costa Rica next January, so I expect if we don’t see him before, he’ll manage to pop up then!

Passover Menu

Passover was special. We had a perfect Seder and drank at least the requisite four glasses of wine. Yes, we do have a lot to choose from now that my parents downsized their wine cellar, too!


Passover for the first time found me using my Abraham Lincoln dishes. Well, I have 4 pieces and my brother has the rest in a box in the garage. The story is as follows:

My mother grew up in Danville, Illinois. When she was about 10 years old my grandfather went to an estate sale at the Woodbury’s. Old Abe often stayed there when he rode his law circuit and my grandfather was told that these were dishes he ate off of. Well, when he arrived home with countless boxes of gorgeous china wrapped in linen and damask cloths, Grandma Fanny was furious. Grandpa Burt also came home with several other pieces of china and two rings: a star sapphire and a diamond ring. My grandma decided to use the dishes and now countless chips and evidence of dishwashing have taken their toll on them. However my Grandpa did win her heart back when he decided to sell the diamond ring which more than covered what he paid for the dishes!

Passover Spring Table Setting
Passover table
Passover table
Passover Table

Truthfully, I don’t ever remember my Grandma using the dishes and when she died my mother got them. She kept them on display, but I don’t remember her using them either. Now that she has downsized, I finally received a few pieces. Since Passover is a holiday of freedom, I thought it fitting to use them on our Passover table and I intend to make that a tradition. (They are my centerpiece in the picture.)  Field Museum later offered to buy the set from my Grandma Fanny, but she wouldn’t sell. We don’t have many heirlooms in our family because we don’t have a lot of history here, and every heirloom counts!

Matzo ball soup

So now it’s onward and upward and I feel like I need  two weeks to catch up for the week I “lost”. I am so needing this easy matzo ball soup recipe!

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Matzo Ball Soup

Matzoh Ball Soup and Passover 2015

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 Hours
  • Total Time: 3.5 hours
  • Yield: 10 Servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Jewish American


Matzo Ball Soup requires great chicken soup and a perfect matzo ball. However that is determined by whoever is eating the matzo ball!



5 garlic cloves
2 quartered onions
3 ribs of celery (cut into 45 pieces)
2 peeled parsnips (cut into 4 pieces)
1/2 of a celeriac (peeled and quartered)
1 peeled rutabaga
1 leek (washed and cut into 45 pieces)
1 package dill
1/2 bunch parsley

3 carrots (peeled and cut into 45 pieces)
1 5 lb chicken approximately, cleaned and I cut out the backbone so that it fits in the pot better, but this isn’t necessary)
5 quarts of water
8 peppercorns

Matzo Balls

8 c plus 1T chicken broth (to cook matzoh balls in)

1 1/4 c matzoh meal
5 large eggs
1 1/4 t salt
1 T vodka
2 T club soda
1/4 c vegetable oil or schmaltz (chicken fat)
1/t t ground pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t dill
1 T finely chopped parsley


Matzo Ball Chicken Soup

Place all vegetables in a big soup pot. Place chicken on top of the vegetables and herbs. Save the carrots until the end. Cover with about 5 quarts of water and add the peppercorns. Bring to a boil on medium heat, while covered. When water is boiling, skim the foam. Reduce heat to medium low and cover again.

After soup has been simmering for about 2 1/2 hours, add the carrots. You want this to simmer very slowly for about 3 hours. (The slower you simmer, the more clear the broth.) Strain chicken broth into another pot or container. (I use the chicken meat in chicken salad or add it back to the soup or if I’m feeling generous, I feed it to Freddie.) Save the carrots for garnish. Discard the other vegetables and bones from the chicken.

Chill the broth overnight. This allows the fat in the soup to rise to the top. In the morning, scrape the fat from the soup and now your soup is ready to be heated and eaten! I use the chicken fat to make matzo balls, but you can use it for anything that requires oil to fry in. This is called schmaltz and it gives great flavor to any food.

Matzo Balls

Combine matzo meal and eggs. Mix well. Add rest of the ingredients and 1 T chicken broth. Mix well again and put in freezer for 45 minutes. Use two tablespoons to form matzoh balls that are about two inches in diameter.

When you are ready to cook them, place them into simmering broth that is hot, but not yet boiling. Cover the pot and cook them for 40-60 minutes COVERED. Check to see if they are cooked through. By slicing a matzo ball in half you will see if there is still uncooked dough on the inside. I like them a little bit this way but if you prefer floaters you won’t want to see any uncooked dough!


Matzoh Balls
From: The New York Times Passover cookbook
Makes: About 12-18 matzoh balls
Time to Make: About 15 minutes to make the mixture. About 40-60 minutes to cook

Keywords: matzo ball soup, matzoh ball soup, matzo ball soup recipe, easy matzo ball soup, matzo ball soup mix

Matzo Ball Soup

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  • Holly @
    April 14, 2015 at 2:50 am

    What a beautiful table, gorgeous family and a wonderful time you must have had together! Your soup sounds ideal but I must say my favorite line in this post was when you wrote "my heart is full". So glad you had this special time filled with family, food and friends. And it sounds like your house won't stay quiet for long if there is a new puppy coming your way!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      My heart was so full! Want to come see the new puppy? Just a few more weeks, though!

  • Carol at Wild Goose Mama
    April 14, 2015 at 12:24 am

    OMG—what blog. I feel like I should have been reading it (talking to you) while having a cup of coffee and a nice big slice of coffee cake. The travel stories were boggling—-with all THREE! I love the story about the dishes. Pics of your table and beautiful center piece was awesome. I love setting a nice table. I didn't get to do it this Easter.
    I don't normally talk about ME, but please make note of the slight name change from Wild Goose Tea. New web design too—whoopee and adding new features along the way.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks Carol. I have and I like it! Coffee cake. I could use a slice now!

  • Suzy @ The Mediterranean Dish
    April 13, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    This is my first time to your lovely blog, glad we connected! I enjoyed reading about your fun gathering with family. And those Abraham Lincoln dishes!!! This is a new recipe to me, but it looks so delicious!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks Suzy! Vice versa! Great chicken soup that I heartily recommend.Yeah, we actually have a story in the family!

  • Yum Yucky
    April 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    The table setting is absolutely beautiful! Now please pass the soup. "slurp-slurp"

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks Yum Yucky! And thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the soup!

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    April 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    What travel nightmares and I'm sure you're glad not to be making any more trip to the airport for a while! Good to know about Southwest and passports!. Your soup looks mouthwatering-delicious and your table is just beautiful!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      Southwest has me up in arms. Really never thought I;d feel that way about them! Thanks Susan!

  • Abbe Odenwalder
    April 11, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    We did. It was awesome. Most of what they had needs to be drunk. We've found very few that have gone bad, and even though many say that some are past there prime, most are still excellent. Thank goodness! Wish you were here to advise! He kept them stored well so that probably helped.

  • Sippity Sup
    April 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Did you drink the Joseph Swan pinot? If not it's probably time as it's prime may be passing soon. Enjoy. GREG

  • Cathleen
    April 10, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Sounds like you had a great holiday!
    When I was working at a Jewish Country Club, they sold Matzoh ball soup and I was hooked instantly. Yours looks delicious!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks CAthleen. They are pretty, pretty good!

  • Karen Harris
    April 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Whew! I am worn out after reading of all your holiday happenings! It looks like a lovely time. What a beautiful table you laid. This matzo ball soup looks so delicious. Sinker or floater, I would eat them all.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      It was fun, Karen! Yeah. I'm not that picky either!

  • La Table De Nana
    April 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Wow..that was a busy time..I came by yesterday..but this post wasn't up:)
    You have a lovely family..So lucky to have our parents still..
    I smiled at the puppy pics..One of our daughters lost Kali..while she was in Fl.. Last night she emailed me photos..they are going to see a Morkie tonight..if it works out ..the pup will be able to come home end of May.
    She looked at adopting bt w/ hypoallergenic pre ~requisites and timing..she's going to this breeder.
    So cute..are those Morkies?

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      No, these aren't morkies. They are Skye terriers which aren't very common. I also have a Havanese which are hypoallergenic and are sweet, fun dogs. But look for a good breeder.

  • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 10, 2015 at 11:56 am

    My goodness Abbe – you have been busy! Your children are beautiful, your table is gorgeous, your soup look amazing and those puppies are adorable! You have covered all the bases on this post and I am tired for you! Enjoy a lovely, quiet, catch-up weekend. I miss my kids and they both live in the same area. I never see my son and it would almost be better if he lived out of town – so there would be an excuse 🙁 Blessings!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      I've heard that before about kids, but at least you have that gorgeous grandson to keep you busy!

  • Amy (Savory Moments)
    April 10, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Look at those cute puppies!!! The soup sounds delicious. I haven't had matzoh balls since once when I was a kid, so I'd like to give them a try again.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      They are cite, aren't they? You should give them a try again. They are almost always good. Unless they fall apart or sink like stones!

  • Sharon D
    April 10, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Phew! You must be tired out, but what wonderful times with the family! I absolutely love your table setting, Abbe. It's beautiful. And I love, love how you presented this soup dish …very elegant! ❤

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks Sharon. It was one of my favorite table settings to date! It is classic soup to be presented classically!

  • Angie Schneider
    April 10, 2015 at 3:34 am

    What a happy family! And looks like everyone had a great time, Abbe. I love your beautiful spring table setup.
    The soup looks indeed very soothing and tasty.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 14, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Everyone had a great time. Of course I laid in bed recovering! Just kidding!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    April 10, 2015 at 2:04 am

    What a great time you had! Exhausting, too, I'd imagine. I'd have left the mess and slept for a day! I've had matzoh ball soup loads of times but never made it myself. Really should — love the stuff. Yours looks terrific. Really fun read — thanks.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 10, 2015 at 2:51 am

      I wish I was bale to leave the mess, but I'm not that type, much to my family's remorse! Make it. You won't be sorry. And freeze the extra balls if you only want enough for two of you. Thanks, John!

  • Cindy
    April 10, 2015 at 1:41 am

    I miss you Abbe! I loved this post. Hope to see you in May if I can work things out.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 10, 2015 at 2:50 am

      Miss you, too cuz! Hope I will see you, too!

  • Liz Berg
    April 10, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Oh, my gosh, you must be wiped out!!! Such a fun family time (except for the annoying flight difficulties)! We're hoping to add a puppy to our family soon, too. Not sure I'm ready for that, but we're diving right in. I love matzoh ball soup, and yours looks perfect!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 10, 2015 at 2:50 am

      You got that right! It was a grand time, Liz! I have to admit to being a bit nervous about a new puppy, but I can't wait! Thanks!