Like most people, I love matzah balls. Although everyone knows me as a from-scratch baker, I am admitting here that I always make matzah balls from the mix. After eating my mother’s matzah balls for years, which alternated from year to year between light and fluffy and something else (I think because of variations in egg sizes), once I tried the balls from the mix, I never went back. Constant dieting has forced me to avoid them, so I developed chicken meatballs as an alternative. They even look like matzah balls. But the traditionalists out there need not worry, as I have also provided ideas below for updating traditional matzah balls.
This soup may be made 3 days in advance or frozen; meatballs may be made 1 day in advance.
To make the soup
Place the chicken pieces in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, leek, celery, garlic, parsnips, fennel, turnip, bay leaves, and salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. Use a large spoon to skim the scum off the top of the soup. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and let the soup simmer, checking after 5 minutes and skimming off any additional scum. Add the parsley and dill, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Let cool. Strain through a large sieve, reserving the carrots to return to the soup when serving. Taste the soup and add more salt or pepper if necessary.
To make the meatballs
While the soup is cooking, prepare the meatball mixture. In the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade attachment, mix together the chicken, stock, ground almonds, garlic, and egg until a paste forms. Add the scallions, salt, and pepper and pulse a few times to mix. Transfer the meatball mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for up to 1 day, until ready to shape and cook the meatballs.
Use a spoon to scoop up the meatball batter and wet hands to shape it into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) balls. Bring the strained soup to a simmer, add the meatballs, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.
To make the garnish
Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini “spaghetti” for the garnish. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick (6-mm) slices. Keeping the stack together, use a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into long strips. Slice the reserved cooked carrots into rounds and return them to the soup. Top each serving of soup and meatballs with some of the zucchini spaghetti.
Matzah Ball Variations
Combine your choice of any one of the following with one packet from a 5-ounce (142g) package of matzah ball mix to make 13 matzah balls. Plan on 2 matzah balls per person:
• 1 teaspoon fresh finely chopped ginger plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 carrot peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch (6 mm) pieces
• 1½ teaspoons mixed finely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and basil
Reprinted with permission from New Passover Menu © 2015 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Michael Bennett Kress
Paula Shoyer, “the kosher baker,” is the author of The Holiday Kosher Baker, The Kosher Baker, The New Passover Menu and The Healthy Jewish Kitchen (November 2017). Paula graduated with a pastry degree from the Ritz Escoffier in Paris, and does cooking and baking demos across the United States and around the world for Jewish organizations, synagogues, Jewish book festivals and more. She is a freelance writer for the Washington Post, Hadassah, Joy of Kosher, and Jewish Food Experience, among other publications. Paula competed on Food Network's Sweet Genius and appears on TV before every major Jewish holiday – over 26 times. In 2015, Paula was honored by Jewish Women International as a “Woman to Watch” and in 2016 as a “kosher food pioneer” by the kosher food bloggers community. Paula lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children.