The Best Matzo Ball Soup

The Best Matzo Ball Soup

Like 'em light and tender? Or dense as rocks? This recipe will deliver either result, and anything in between. [Photographs: Daniel Gritzer unless otherwise noted]

Some people like sinkers, some people like floaters. Here at Serious Eats, we're equal opportunity matzo-ballers, so we're giving a recipe that lets you choose the matzo balls of your dreams. Best part, it's ridiculously easy.

Why this recipe works:

  • Poaching in chicken broth instead of water produces the most flavor-packed matzo balls; using a separate broth for poaching and serving ensures a serving broth that isn't cloudy.
  • We give you the choice: Using schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) produces the most flavorful matzo balls, while vegetable or canola oil offer convenience.
  • Optional seltzer helps to aerate the matzo balls so that they're light and tender, while optional baking powder allows you to make insanely light and fluffy ones.

Note: For dense sinkers, use water and omit the baking powder. For light matzo balls that still have some substance, use seltzer but omit the baking powder. For very light matzo balls use seltzer and add anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon baking powder (more baking powder will yield increasingly light matzo balls, with the higher amounts making insanely light ones). Our personal preference here at Serious Eats is to use seltzer with either no baking powder or no more than 1/8 teaspoon per batch. Schmaltz will add the most flavor to the matzo balls, but takes time to prepare; neutral oils are easier but don't add flavor.

  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 25 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup seltzer or water (see note above)
  • 1/4 cup Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil (see note above)
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1/8 to 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional; see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 quarts good-quality homemade chicken stock, divided
  • Finely diced carrot and celery, for garnish
  • 2 fresh dill sprigs, plus picked fresh dill frinds for garnish

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs with seltzer, and schmaltz or oil. In a small bowl, stir together matzo meal with baking powder (if using), salt, and pepper. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, divide stock evenly between two pots, season both with salt, and bring to a simmer. Add diced carrots and celery and dill sprigs to one pot and simmer until just tender; discard dill sprigs and keep warm.

  3. 3.

    Using wet hands, and re-wetting hands as necessary, form matzo-ball mixture into 1- to 1 1/2-inch balls, and add to simmering pot of stock that doesn't have the carrots and celery. When all matzo balls are added, cover and simmer until matzo balls are cooked through, 1 hour. Cooked matzo balls can be kept warm in their broth until ready to serve.

  4. 4.

    Using a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to serving bowls (you should have at least 3 per bowl); strain matzo-ball-cooking broth and save for another use. Ladle hot clear broth with carrots and celery into each bowl and garnish with dill springs. Serve.