Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Recipe for Matzoh Ball Soup

It's forking brilliant!

[I shared this with a friend recuperating from surgery. But you don't have to go under the knife to benefit from the healing properties of matzoh ball soup!]

Open a bottle of red wine. Let stand for a little while or until your patience runs out. Pour a glass. Drink. God, I do love to suck down some red wine while I cook! Right: The soup.

Toss a few bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in a large pot of water (you can also use a whole chicken if you like). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. (How much of each? Good God man, do I look like a measuring spoon to you? Put in enough of each and not too much of any.) Bring the lot to a boil. Keep your bird or bird-bits on the boil for, say 20 minutes. After that you could let the pot stand and cool or, if you're in a hurry, pull the boiled chicken out of the broth and place to the side/in the fridge. You're gonna get your hands on it sooner or later and the last thing you need is retributive chicken burns.

While the chicken cooks, dice/chop/emasculate some potatoes, onions, carrots, celery (maybe mushrooms, too, or leeks; whatever you fancy in a soup, this is your soup!).

ALSO, while you are letting the bird boil, you can prep the matzoh balls. Here's how. In a mixing bowl lay three eggs -- sorry! "add" three eggs -- a tablespoon (large dollop) of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic to taste and a bit of boiling soup broth.* Mix (it's a mixing bowl, for fork's sake!). Add Matzoh meal a bit at a time. Mix. Keep doing this until you are happy with the batter (too dry? add more soup!). But whatever you do, do not stoop to using pre-fab matzoh ball mix in a box. I don't care what rabbinical supervisory blessed that sawdust. Use real, unadulterated matzoh meal, blessed or not. How much matzoh meal do you add? Good question. I add it until the batter is sorta firm and your fork has to work a little harder to get the stuff to move around the bowl. Not exactly bread batter thick but at least a little stiff. In a hurry? Skip to ** below. If not, cover and let stand in the refrigerator. My dad swears this makes the balls hard, and he likes his balls hard. HEY! Keep it clean, you: This is my DAD we're talking about. I've found that no matter what you do your balls take on a life of their own and attain the firmness that Yahweh always intended and you can do nothing to change them. So it is written. (Yield approximately 8-12 balls, depending on how greedy you are.)

*If you have lots of time, let the soup cool then scoop up some of the fat off the top and use it for the matzoh balls instead of the broth. Oh my forking god that is good!

Remove the chicken from the pot replete with recently boiled bird broth and shred the meat from the carcass. If that's too gruesome you could just shred the meat and ignore from whence you are shredding it. Or pull it off the bone and cut it up, la la la, no carcass here, la la la. I don't care: Just make sure you put the meat back into the broth having turned it into bite-sized morsels of some fashion. Add all those veggies to the re-chickened broth.

**Bring soup to a boil again. When it boils, drop little balls of matzoh dough into the roiling waters. HINT: To keep the batter from sticking to you and thus dropping as perfect little spheres into your soup, wet one of your hands. No, there is no Talmudic rule as to which one. How do you make little balls of matzoh dough? Use a spoon, scoop up a little batter (approximately the size of an adolescent golf ball), roll it in your wet hand and drop it into the boiling soup. Yes: Splattering, boiling broth is hot. Try not to scald yourself! If scalded, there's probably a rabbinical supervisory blessing you could utter or at least a good bit of Anglo-Saxonry to thwart your focusing too much on the pain.

If you have lots of time, extend all the steps above by another bottle of wine or by a factor of three or four episodes of "NCIS" or something more brutal (if you have HBO, that is). The longer the soup sits, the longer the balls cool, the more time everything has to "flavor-up," if I might be so bold.

Serve the soup to slavering guests hot, but not boiling hot (see that bit about scalds above -- you want everyone to eat with a tongue that can discern your soup from sewer water). You might serve with Tabasco, if you dare, and red wine (whatever you didn't drink while you cooked). L'chaim and bon apetit!

A final word on matzoh ball soup: As with everything of Jewish origin, this soup gets better and better over time, or so my wife tells me. Day two will taste better than day one, day three better than day two, and if your soup lives to be as old as Methuselah, you probably ought to throw it away.

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