Joan Nathan's Chosen Matzo Ball Soup

March 14, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: The ultimate chicken soup, just like your Jewish mother used to make.Joan Nathan

Serves: 6
Prep time: 3 hrs 30 min
Cook time: 2 hrs 45 min


For the soup

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 large onions (whole, unpeeled)
  • 4 parsnips
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 6 carrots
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 tablespoons snipped dill, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

For the matzo balls

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
In This Recipe


For the soup

  1. Put the chicken and enough water to cover by two inches (about 4 quarts) in a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Skim off the froth as it rises to the top.
  2. Add the onions, parsnips, celery, carrots, parsley, 4 tablespoons of the dill, and the salt and pepper. Half-cover and simmer for at least an hour and up to 2 hours, adjusting the seasoning to taste.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight so the liquid solidifies. When the fat rises to the top, skim it off and reserve for the matzo balls.

For the matzo balls

  1. Using a spoon, gently mix the eggs, schmaltz, stock, matzo meal, nutmeg, ginger, and parsley, dill, or cilantro in a large bowl. Season with salt and 2 to 3 grinds of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour or overnight.
  2. To shape and cook the matzo balls, bring a wide, deep pot of lightly salted water to a boil. With wet hands, take some of the mix and mold it into the size and shape of a golf ball. Gently drop it into the boiling water, repeating until all the mix is used.
  3. Cover the pan, reducing heat to a lively simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes for al dente matzo balls, or closer to 45 for lighter matzo balls. To test their readiness, remove one with a slotted spoon and cut in half. The matzo ball should be the same color and texture throughout.
  4. Strain the soup. Set aside the chicken for chicken salad and discard the vegetables. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Spoon a matzo ball into each bowl, pour soup over each matzo ball, and sprinkle with the remaining snipped dill.

More Great Recipes:
Soup|Jewish|Celery|Cilantro|Dill|Parsley|Parsnip|Nutmeg|Carrot|Passover|Rosh Hashanah|Dinner

Reviews (12) Questions (0)

12 Reviews

Valerie June 17, 2015
Well, I would have squeezed a lemon into the broth so it would draw the goodness from the bones. Also, I would add a tablespoon or two of Keen's dry mustard to give it a little heat and three whole cloves stuck into the onion so they don't get lost. Speaking of cloves, we need at least five or six cloves of garlic. The matzo balls should have the eggs separated and whip the whites to fold in... ah... now that's a light and fluffy matzo ball. Enjoy on a cold winter's night.
Ellen F. April 9, 2014
How about an all-veggie Matzoh Ball Soup? This one is really worth giving a try---and no one will miss the chicken!!
Valerie June 17, 2015
Matzo balls are made with schmaltz (chicken fat) and chicken soup is used for the liquid. Can't make a "genuine" matzo ball without the star ingredients, ergo vegie-style is something else.
Micki April 7, 2014
I need to make 12 servings of soup. Do I double each of the ingredients?
walkie74 October 24, 2013
This was pretty good. I'll have to add this one to my rotation of chicken soups--pho and American style, among others. :)
bobbie M. March 30, 2013
why do you recommend not cooking the matzo balls in the soup?<br />
Author Comment
Joan N. April 3, 2013
Two reasons: The matzo balls can absorb a lot of the soup, changing their texture. But more important, they may break up and leave some debris in the broth.
sunflourbaking March 22, 2013
Do you make your matzo balls in advance, and if so, how do you store them? I take them from the pot of boiling water and put them directly into the stock. I've always wondered if this was a good or bad idea!
Author Comment
Joan N. March 22, 2013
If you make them far in advance and need to store them long term, I put the cooked matzo balls on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan and freeze them. Then put them in a baggy and just before serving put them in the soup. Some people make their matzo balls and the soup at the same time and just put the cooked mazto balls in the soup. I don't recommend cooking them in the soup.
sunflourbaking March 22, 2013
Thank you for your quick response, Joan! It's such an honor to be in contact with a living legend. I've been carting around your cookbooks since my college days (in the mid 70's) as you, along with my mother, helped guide my through my Jewish culinary roots. Happy Pesach to you and your family!!
rapearson March 21, 2013
Do you use the chicken for anything afterwards?
Author Comment
Joan N. March 21, 2013
Chicken salad!