Tag Archive: chicken


Matzo Ball Soup

So… I’m not Jewish.  I’m not even Christian.  My parents got married in the local UCC Protestant church; Nana, Dad and I were in the choir for years, and I went to Sunday School there until I was about nine and announced that it wasn’t the right fit for me.  But for a tiny town in Maine (year round population: 4500), it was a startlingly open and progressive church.

It may or may not have looked exactly like this one.

It may or may not have looked exactly like this one.

One of the many things I remember fondly is that they taught us about the old testament holidays as well, and asked the sole Jewish family in town to talk to us about Passover and Hanukkah, and the associated traditions.  And Jewish holiday food is awesome.

The fact that it’s really hard to find matzo ball soup in rural New England led me to eventually try to make it on my own.  Fortunately, I have been assured that as long as you use matzo meal for the balls and chicken broth for the soup, you can’t go too horribly wrong.

This is one of the few circumstances where I will specify ingredient brands. The “Manhattan Matzo Balls” recipe on the back of Streit’s unsalted matzo meal is perfect for big, fluffy balls, and Tabatchnik chicken broth has exactly the flavor profile that canned soups aspire to but fail to achieve.

OMG IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!!!

OMG IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!!

INGREDIENTS:
1 c. matzo meal
4 large eggs
1/4 c. water or seltzer
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp. salt
pinch of ground pepper

64 oz. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 large carrot
1 purple headed turnip
1 large parsnip
1/2 c. minced onion
dill to taste

For the matzo balls:

  • in a bowl, scramble eggs with a fork, then mix in oil, 1/4 c. water, salt and pepper
  • add in matzo meal, mix thoroughly
  • chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes
  • bring a large pot of water to a boil*
  • drop in rounded tablespoonfuls of matzo ball batter, simmer for 30 minutes

For the soup:

  • chop carrot, turnip, and parsnip into 1/2″ pieces
  • in a large pot, mix broth, 2 c. water, veggies and dill, then bring to boil, and simmer 30 minutes

*Personally, I don’t mind the broth being a little cloudy, like my matzo balls to take on the flavour, and dislike washing extra dishes, so I just cook them directly in the soup.  I’m sure myriad bubbes would scold me for that, but they aren’t here, so 😛

Pantry Soup

Once upon a time, one of my friends was battling a long, drawn out case of bronchitis.  I made him and his husband a huge batch of this chicken and veggie soup, and they demolished it in one night.  When they asked me for the recipe, I was stuck.  “Uhh… there isn’t one?”

As I’ve fed it to more and more people, I’ve gotten more and more recipe requests.  So this is me, attempting to quantify magic.

Still the only way to get me to eat greenbeans.

This is another of my mother’s concoctions, born of an expedition into the depths of the pantry and freezer to try to make space for new groceries.  I know I’ve never made it exactly the same way twice, I would be shocked if she has.  We’ve used one of those pre-roasted chickens you pick up at the grocery store, or boneless/skinless chicken breasts, or leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  You could use duck, or a family of quail (although I can’t imagine why you would want to, all those tiny bones…) or any other bird that strikes your fancy. My personal favourite was when I used an *entire* frozen chicken, giblets and all.

There’s something about pulling meat off bone by hand, and chopping up a heart, that helps you appreciate the animal you’re about to eat.  Personally, I’m also inclined to believe that it gives the soup’s healing power a little extra oomph.

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil/1 tbsp butter OR a nonstick pot
1.5 – 2 lb Bird Meat (or a 3 lb whole bird)
5 – 6 c. chicken broth/stock/bouillon
1 bay leaf
1 c. rice
14 oz. can diced or crushed tomatos, strained
6 oz. mixed frozen vegetables
recommended seasonings: black pepper/rosemary/thyme/basil/cilantro/salt only if needed/a superteeny pinch of cumin if using white meat only

  • in a large pot, sweat onions and garlic with oil, butter, or nonstick surface
  • if Bird Meat is frozen or raw, add to pot now.  If using precooked, wait.
  • add stock/broth/bouillon, 1 bay leaf, black pepper, and other seasonings to taste
  • bring pot to a boil, then hold boil until Bird Meat is cooked through
  • remove cooked/precooked Bird Meat from pot/refrigerator, and set aside
  • add rice, tomato, and frozen veggies, return to boil and set timer to rice’s recommended cook time
  • stir and sample the broth, add more seasoning if needed
  • remove and discard any bone and/or skin, then chop Bird Meat into bite sized bits, about 1/2″ – 3/4″ chunks
  • return Bird Meat to pot, until heated through and rice is done

Resist the temptation to eat straight from the pot.

There are eleventyone ways to tweak this, and almost all of them are just fine.  Only have fast-cook rice?  Set the timer for the veggies instead.  Only have an “italian herb” can of tomatos?  Adjust the other seasonings accordingly.  It is, by its essence, practical.  Use what you have.  Taste often.  Don’t stress.  Feel the love.