It's that time of year again. I am down to very few vacation days, but today I woke up feeling like I was coming down with a cold. The last time I had a cold was almost 10 years ago- and that's no accident. I have a secret to share with you: Every time I get this feeling, I stay home, make matzo ball soup and rest. This stuff is magic. Just smelling it cook for the few hours it takes starts the body a-healin'. Let's hope this is the case today.
1 cut up chicken, salted and peppered
1 onion, quartered
1 turnip, cut in half
1 parsnip, cut in half
1 sprig fresh dill
1 piece of leafy end of celery stalk
Put everything in a stockpot and cover with a mixture of chicken broth and water - I use 2/3 broth. Turn it almost to high heat until it gently boils, and then turn it down to keep it at a strong simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
Just before the 2 1/2 hour mark is a good time to prepare your matzo ball mixture because it should sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
1 cup matzo meal (unsalted)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup oil (schmaltz will also work)
1/4 cup water or seltzer
1 teaspoon salt (OR to taste)
Pinch of Ground Pepper
Beat eggs. Add water, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Add matzo meal and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.
Back to the soup! At this point, get another large pot and through a colander, strain the soup over it, so that all that is in the new pot is broth. Shred some of the chicken and add to broth. Some people don't put any shredded chicken in their soup, but I do. Also, at this point, add carrot and celery - one stalk of each, sliced thinly. Taste broth and add salt if necessary. Leave broth with shredded chicken and carrot and celery on the simmer for another 1/2 hour or so, until vegetables have softened. Time to make matzo balls!
Remove mixture from refrigerator. Partially fill large pot with water (I use some more chicken broth and mix it with the water) and bring to a boil. Moisten palms with cold water. Form mixture into balls about 1" in diameter, and drop matzo balls in boiling liquid. When all the matzo balls are in the pot, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to a large bowl.
If you are ready to eat, it's time to serve up bowls of your wonderful matzo ball soup. This soup also freezes well, but freeze the matzo balls separately on a flat sheet, and then place in a heavy duty freezer bag. Whenever you defrost the soup, and it's in the pot getting hot, you can put the frozen matzo balls right into it and let them heat up in the soup.
A little extra advice: don't freeze the soup with the matzo balls in it- the soup gets cloudy in the process. It tastes the same, but it won't look nearly as nice so you won't want to serve it to company.
I have to admit that I have smelled this soup cooking all morning and I already feel better. No more aches, scratchy throat or all-around yukky feeling. It's only 12 noon, so maybe I should have a bowl of soup and drive into work after all. On the other hand, I should probably just take it easy- the hammock would be a nice place to nap. The dogs are happy I'm home and I wouldn't want to disappoint them...and the eggs.