Joan Nathan's Chosen Matzo Ball Soup

March 20, 2013

Each year at Passover, Jewish communities celebrate the Israelites' emancipation from slavery in Egypt. The story goes that they fled so quickly, they didn't have time to wait for their bread to rise -- hence the prohibition of leavened food during Passover's eight days. Matzo ball soup is therefore an essential part of Passover celebrations, ladeled up during the seders that mark the holiday's first two days.


When it comes to Jewish food traditions, we turn to Joan Nathan (remember her hamantaschen?) for reliable, authentic recipes. In her latest video for Tablet Magazine, she shows us how to make her favorite matzo ball soup -- explained, as always, with the tenderness of a mother and the confidence of a seasoned professional.

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If you've never made matzo balls, don't let your inexperience deter you. All you've got to do here is make chicken stock, render some fat, mix your matzo dough, and boil. Plus, as Joan says, "this isn't rocket science -- it's love!"

Joan Nathan's Chosen Matzo Ball Soup

Serves 6

For the soup:

1 large chicken (about 4 pounds)
2 large onions, unpeeled
4 parsnips
2 stalks celery and their leaves
6 carrots
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons snipped dill
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

For the matzo balls:

4 large eggs
1/4 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or vegetable oil 
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, dill, or cilantro
1 teaspoon salt, more for cooking
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • em-i-lis
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



em-i-lis March 21, 2013
i LOVE matzoh ball soup but have always been intimidated by the thought of making it. i like Joan's quote! will definitely try this year!
Marian B. March 21, 2013
It's so easy to make! I was a matzoh novice, but I still felt very comfortable making this recipe, and was very happy with the results. Plus, Joan is awesome.
em-i-lis March 21, 2013
Fantastic, Marian! Thanks for letting me know about your experience. I can't wait.