It's been a few decades since we started this show (do you remember the 24-plus-hour undertaking that was my mom's brisket? I barely do!), which means far too much time has passed since I've walked you through a Jewish staple I know you all know and love. Welcome to the matzo ball soup episode, y'all. It's a doozy!
In all seriousness, I love this soup for the same reason many of you do, whether you're Jewish or not: It's salty, soul-warming, and an instant ticket to feeling better no matter what it is that ails you. I maybe even love it a little bit more, because I've gotten to watch my dad gear up to Seder every year for as long as I can remember by carefully dicing his veggies and taking such care to add his herbs at just the right moment. It's his contribution to an always-special meal and it feeds all Komans for an entire week after the holiday is over.
The plot twist, here, though, is that Roger Koman does not make his own matzo balls (gasp, etc.). And while he's been perfecting his broth for more than 30 years, he's not given the kosher butcher-bought ones he plops in there a second thought. And that's great! They're delicious! But I happen to have a mother-in-law who makes superb matzo balls.
Without further ado, here's how you can make your own version of the now-famous Roger Koman-meets-Linda Dolinger matzo ball soup. It'll take you...a minute, but it'll sustain you (and 5-10 of your family members) for a week. Have fun!
In a large pot, place a large chicken in 2 inches of boiling water. Once cooked on the outside, remove the chicken from the pot and shred (or cube) it to your liking. Dump the water. Re-fill the pot with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Add your chicken back in.
Add 2 large onions (cut to your preference) to the boiling water. Add 3 stalks of diced celery after a few minutes have passed. Cover the vegetables with about 1 pound of chicken broth and bring the soup to a simmer. From here on out, the soup should always be simmering.
Add 1 peeled and chopped turnip and 1 chopped parsnip to the soup. If the vegetables are peeking up out of the liquid, add enough water to the pot to submerge them and bring back up to a simmer.
Once simmering again, add ground black pepper to your preference. Do NOT add salt. Instead, add one chicken bouillon cube. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and 2 large well-rinsed, sliced leeks. Again, add water if the vegetables are not covered. Add another chicken bouillon cube and mix through (...this is why you don't add salt).
Allow the soup to cool and rest overnight. In the morning, bring it back up to a simmer and taste—if it's not salty enough for you, you can (and probably should) finish off your chicken broth.
Meanwhile, combine 4 eggs, 1 cup of matzo meal, 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons of cold seltzer, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large glass bowl. Once combined, cover tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. One by one, ball up the matzo meal mix and place each ball gently into the boiling water. This should yield 10-12 matzo balls, depending on how big you make each one. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let cook for another 30 minutes.
Uncover the pot and use a slotted spoon to transfer each matzo ball into the simmering soup. Once they're all in (and you've gently mixed everything together), add a big hunk of both chopped Italian and dill (however much you like!) to the pot. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve by placing one matzo ball in each bowl and ladling the soup and vegetables around it. Eat while hot.
Phew. We did it!
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