There are certain holiday meals we crave all year long, but we hold generally hold off on stuffing turkeys and simmering cranberries until November. Perhaps some seek a little mischief and prepare fruit cake in the middle of July or sip peppermint cocoa in April. For Janice, though, preparing her matzo ball soup throughout the year has become her family’s tradition. Rather than waiting until Yom Kippur or Passover, chicken soup is one of her go-to meals. Even in the midst of hot, humid August, you’ll find Janice in the kitchen plopping matzo balls into boiling water. She just turns up her central air before she gets to work in the kitchen. For as long as she can remember, her two grandmothers, Bubby and Bubba, served chicken soup and chicken liver for every major holiday. Back then, they’d make it all from scratch, preparing the stock long before the soup sat simmering upon the stove. Each week little Janice would arrive at either grandmother's home and would be immediately instructed to eat; “God forbid you didn’t eat; there’d be a problem,” Janice recalls as she chops parsnips.
Those visits made an impression on her; today, she can practically make the soup without ever addressing the recipe. It’s a good thing the recipe’s taken root in her mind because it’s her husband’s favorite meal. Whenever the craving strikes, she pulls out bone-in chicken breasts and gets to work on the soup. It’s a complete meal for the two of them, and she freezes it often so her husband has something for dinner on nights when she’s not home. Chicken soup is also her old reliable when anyone in the family comes down with a cold. At the first sign of sniffles, she loads he crockpot and, four hours later, places a steaming bowl of health in front of the afflicted.
Each time her son comes home for a visit, Janice prepares a pot, slipping chicken chunks into his bowl while leaving them out of her husband’s. She adds extra noodles to please the hubby's palate instead. Janice knows her family‘s preferences and adds or deletes to their desires. This may be the reason she worries that her daughter doesn’t make the soup herself. It’s such a staple in Janice’s home, she wonders who will make it for the family after she’s gone. Her son, though, has made it a few times, so perhaps he’ll carry on the tradition of making the holiday soup an everyday meal.
Matzo Ball Soup
For the Soup: 4-5 pieces of bone-in chicken 2 large cans chicken broth 2 large cans water 3 large onions, thinly sliced 6-8 sliced carrots 1 bunch parsley 1 large turnip, quartered 3-4 stalks celery, quartered (include celery tops) 1 tsp salt
Put all ingredients in a large pot. Cook for about 1 hour, remove chicken and set aside then skim all foam from surface. Cook for at least 2-3 hours more on a low simmer. Remove bones from chicken pieces and shred into individual bowls of soup before serving.
For the Matzo balls: 4-eggs 1/3 cup oil 1/2 cup water 1/2 teas.salt 1 cup matzo meal
Mix first 4 ingredients then add Matzo Meal. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours to set. Make small balls and drop into boiling water until balls float to the top - about 20 minutes; then add the Matzo balls into pot with chicken soup and let them cook until ready to serve soup.