Definitely understood in our family as a cure-all for maladies of the body + soul and harsh Upstate New York winters, this matzo ball soup is heartier than most with real chicken breast, diced veggies, and egg noodles. It's originally my great-grandma's (G.G.) recipe, perfected by my mom, and then complicated (of course) by me.
I have also made this vegetarian plenty of times by simply omitting the chicken and you can make it simpler by using broth from the store. —sarahschuster
Begin your chicken broth several hours in advance. Add whole chicken breasts to a large soup pot and cover with water, 2 inches above top of breasts. This might be more or less than 4 quarts depending on size of pot and chickens.
Add your veggies and herbs. These are optional and can be varied to your specific tastes. My mom never used vegetables when boiling the chicken, but it will help to flavor the broth. Veggies can be unpeeled, or peeled if that freaks you out.
Boil for about 30 minutes. Chicken should no longer be pink in the middle and should remove easily from the bone. Remove veggies from broth and discard. Remove chicken breasts from broth and let cool.
Take the meat off the bone and chop or shred into smaller pieces if desired. Skim any fat off the top of the broth.
Soup and Matzo Balls
In a small bowl, mix matzo meal, eggs, oil, seltzer, salt + pepper together. Let this mixture sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The seltzer is a trick some people say helps to make the matzo balls fluffy. If you like your matzo balls dense (some do), my mom says using egg beaters instead of eggs will do the trick!
Meanwhile, add diced veggies and salt + pepper to the pot with the broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 30 minutes, until veggies begin to get tender.
Bring broth back up to a boil. Take matzo ball mix from fridge and start rolling into small balls and dropping them into the boiling soup. You should be able to get about 10 balls out of the mixture and if they're too big they won't cook properly. Wet your hands a little before to keep the mixture from sticking.
Cover the pot and boil for about 30 minutes (it's pretty hard to over-cook a matzo ball). Try not to open the pot or the matzo balls might deflate. At 30 minutes you can cut one open and see if it needs more time to cook, it should be the same texture the whole way through.
When the matzo balls are done, add in the uncooked noodles and the chicken and boil for several minutes until the noodles are al dente and the chicken is hot.