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Sinkers or Floaters? The Secret to Fluffy and Airy Matzo Balls for your Matzo Ball Soup.

April 22, 2011

Matzo Ball Soup

There are few things more comforting than a bowl of homemade soup and one of my favorites is Matzo ball soup. It consists of matzo balls, a traditional Jewish dumpling made from matzo meal, chicken stock and vegetables. It can be simply described as a unfilled dumpling served in chicken soup, but a well prepared bowl is more than just the sum of its ingredients – it’s comfort food.

I had my first matzo ball soup at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah, they were two baseball sized balls proudly floating in a bowl of chicken broth. I will admit that at first glance it wasn’t much to look at, nor did it look too enticing and frankly I was concerned that the matzo balls would be really tough and bland. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors chicken broth, parsley and chives, and how light and fluffy they were. Those are the floaters, they have tiny little air pockets making them super light and almost pillowy. On the flip side are the sinkers, they are the denser and heavier matzo balls, usually those are the ones served at diners. Unfortunately for me, the sinkers seem to be more popular in restaurants. So this passover, I am determined to make my own matzo ball soup the way I like them. Which brings me to my next question, how on earth do I get the matzo balls to be light and airy?

After reading up on a few traditional matzo ball recipes, I found out that it’s not hard to make them but it does take some time and care to get them light and fluffy. Depending on the recipe, the matzo balls can be solid and dense or light and fluffy, but the ingredients remain the same: well prepared chicken stock, matzo meal, eggs, and schmaltz (chicken fat- which is what gives the matzo balls its distinctive flavor).

The recipe can be modified to result in firmer matzo balls (which calls for a bit more oil and the use of chicken stock) and lighter matzo balls (using whipped egg whites to soft peaks and seltzer water). The secret is all in the process of mixing in the wet and dry ingredients. When you add the matzo meal into the wet ingredients you want to slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal and stir the mixture. This ensures that all the matzo meal is evenly distributed and no clumpage. Then you want to whip the egg whites to a soft peaks and fold it in to the matzo mixture. It is important to let the matzo mixture chill in the refrigerator for a few hours because when it’s first made the mixture is still pretty loose and you want it to set so that it will be easier to shape into balls and maintain its shape during the cooking.

Now the problem is that even though I’ve had my fair share of matzo ball soup, I’ve actually never made them before, I’ve only seen them being made from a box mix. So this is going to be a real adventure making my first matzo ball soup from scratch!

Matzo Ball Soup
adapted from the parsley thief
serves 8

2 qrt     store bought or homemade chicken stock
Meat from 1 whole chicken (reserved after making stock)
1 cup     chopped carrots
1 cup     chopped celery
1/4 cup     finely chopped fresh parsley

Matzo Balls
5 large     eggs, separated
1/4 cup     seltzer water
1/4 cup     chicken stock
1/4 cup     canola oil or chicken fat, melted {reserved after making stock}
1/2 cup     finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teasp     kosher salt
1 cup     matzo meal

For the matzo balls
1. In a large mixing bowl add the egg yolks, seltzer water, chicken stock, canola oil, parsley, salt and whisk until combined. Slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal and stir to combine. In a large bowl, add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the matzo mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours. (I suggest making these the night before, the longer they are chilled the better flavors they will have)

Matzo Ball Soup

2. Bring  a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat.

3. Shape the matzo balls using an ice cream scoop, or two spoons (they should be the size of golf balls) and place them on a plate about 1 inch apart.

Matzo Ball Soup

4. Reduce the flame to low for a gentle simmer, or they will break apart. Wet your hands under running water so they are thoroughly wet, place a matzo ball in your palm and roll them into balls. Drop them into the simmering salted water one at a time. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl until ready to use. The matzo balls can be made ahead and kept in a bowl, with a bit of stock to keep them from drying out. Note: Like dumplings, matzo balls soak up quite a bit of liquid as they cook so add more water if need be.

For the Soup, in a soup pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the carrots, and celery. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Shred the reserved chicken into bite size pieces and add into the soup. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a few more minutes, just until the chicken is heated all the way through.

To serve, place a few matzo balls in a bowl, ladle the soup on top, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Printable Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup

I have to say that as a first timer I did a pretty decent job at these matzo balls, I mean they weren’t the prettiest things in the world but they were definitely fluffy and light and were very flavorful. If you have the time, try making your own chicken stock is totally worth the effort because it adds so much more flavor to the soup and it has far less sodium than store bought ones.

Cheers & until next time happy passover.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2011 12:50 pm

    Your matzo ball soup looks delicious and very comforting indeed. I grew up in a Sephardic household and had my first matzo ball in my late teens at a NY deli, since then I have had good ones and not so good ones but I have yet to make it at home, I’ll try your recipe before Passover ends. Thank you for sharing, your photos are gorgeous.

    • April 23, 2011 7:46 pm

      Thank you so much! I really do hope you try it out the recipe, it’s so much easier than I thought it would be. But sometimes you just NEED a bowl of matzo ball soup from a NY deli. Do you have any suggestions? My favorite is Katz’s, I wish they could over-night a bowl to my home right now.

  2. April 24, 2011 12:43 am

    I like them to float, unless I’m making the big ones. Sometimes I just make a few baseball sized matzoh balls and float one in each serving bowl. It’s a fun presentation, and half of it ends up above soup level anyway. I agree there’s no beating homemade stock, but sadly I never remember until the day I want my matzoh ball soup and it’s just too much effort! Maybe next time. . .

    • March 27, 2013 11:13 pm

      I continually make my stock and freeze it in batches… it REALLY comes in handy when you REALLY want a bowl of soup, or want to add it to rice or other dishes that call for water…. Trust me, once you get in the habit of making and freezing stock, there is no going back.

  3. May 1, 2011 5:55 pm

    like the writeups! how about covering our group? We eat as well

  4. March 27, 2012 3:03 pm

    I’m making these today and am terribly excited, as the only matzo balls I’ve ever had have been of the heavy Jersey Diner variety. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • March 27, 2012 3:09 pm

      please let me know how they turn out!

      • October 5, 2012 5:28 pm

        Hi, I made your matzah balls and they were fluffly and delicious but didn’t hold together at all. My son called it “matza clump soup.” Any suggestions?

  5. March 27, 2012 6:42 pm

    I ran short on time and wasn’t able to refrigerate for five hours -had to settle for 2.5- but they were quite good! I was knocked out by the fluffy airy texture. Will definitely make them again -on a day when I’m not in such a time crush. 🙂 Perfect thing for my little girl’s cold. 🙂

  6. October 6, 2012 7:28 pm

    Hi, I made your matzah balls and they were fluffly and delicious but didn’t hold together at all. My son called it “matza clump soup.” Any suggestions?

  7. Mrs. Scars permalink
    March 12, 2013 9:10 am

    This is the recipe I have been searching for FOREVER!!!! I don’t know if you’ve been to Toojay’s deli, but I’m obsessed with their matzo ball soup. Every recipe I’ve tried gives me these dense baseballs….these are perfect clouds. Ahhh, so happy!!!! Thank you, absolutely delicious and I don’t have to spend $9 a quart at Toojays anymore!


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