At Wise Sons, our Jewish deli in San Francisco, we’ve learned two crucial things about making matzo ball soup: Keep it as simple as possible, and put extra care into everything. We tried a lot of chicken broth recipes when we started out—making double broths, adding kombu for umami—but they never came out quite right; they were too complicated. We found that really roasting things and getting it all dark, stuff like leaving the onion skins on, was giving us better results than we could ever achieve with any of the complicated things we were trying. There’s a certain taste people expect from matzo ball soup. We think this gets it just right.
Game plan: It’s easy to remove the fat from the broth if you start this recipe the day before and let it chill overnight. The finished broth will keep for 5 days in the fridge, or in the freezer for 1 month.
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 9 hrs, plus chilling time
- Active: 30 mins
For the soup:
- 5 pounds inexpensive chicken parts: carcasses, backs, necks, and/or wings
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 medium yellow onions, unpeeled and halved
- 2 medium carrots, unpeeled and split lengthwise
- 2 medium celery stalks, halved
- Vegetable oil, for drizzling
- 3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- Cold water to cover
- 1 recipe Wise Sons Deli Matzo Balls
- Fresh dill sprigs or parsley leaves, for garnishing
- Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and another in the lower third, then heat to 425°F. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with the salt. On a second baking sheet, arrange the onions, carrots, and celery in a single layer and drizzle with a little vegetable oil.
- Put both pans in the oven and roast until the chicken and vegetables are well browned but not blackened: 15 to 20 minutes for the vegetables, and 25 to 30 minutes for the chicken.
- Transfer the roasted chicken and vegetables to a tall stockpot and add the garlic, herbs, and peppercorns. Cover with water by about 4 inches and set over medium heat.
- Slowly bring the water to a boil—this should happen slowly, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and let the stock simmer very gently for 6 to 8 hours. Check it every hour or so to make sure too much liquid hasn’t boiled away. If it’s starting to look too reduced, add boiling water and make sure the heat is as low as it can go.
- After 6 to 8 hours, remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the stuff in the strainer. Let the stock cool to a warm room temperature, then refrigerate, preferably overnight.
- Next day, remove the congealed schmaltz (chicken fat) from the surface (save it for sautéing or roasting). The stock will keep 5 days in the fridge, or freeze and keep for 1 month.
- To serve, place a couple of freshly poached matzo balls in each serving bowl, ladle over the hot chicken broth, and garnish with fresh dill sprigs. If you’re working with previously cooked and chilled matzo balls, reheat them gently in the broth and serve.