Budget-friendly meals: Matzoh ball soup

Martha's Excellent Matzoh Ball Soup
Serves 6 to 8

"Martha brought the matzoh balls" was often exclaimed with delight and relief at our family gatherings and holidays. It meant that even if the brisket was overcooked and the blintzes dry, the kugel too sweet and the chopped liver bland, it would all fall away once you bit into one of those ethereal, cloudlike matzoh balls.

The Bromberg's grandmother Martha's influence is everywhere in their book and in their restaurants, but it is perhaps greatest in this dish, which epitomizes her grace in so many ways. Her matzoh balls walk the line between soft and firm. They hold their shape and don't fall apart when you cut them, but they melt in the mouth.

The broth is pretty special, too, flecked with dill and dotted with golden puddles of schmaltz floating on the surface. Martha never let the matzoh balls sit in the broth, which makes the soup cloudy and overcooks the matzoh balls. Instead, she cooked them separately and then combined them with the broth just before serving.

Chicken broth


  • Chicken broth -- $1.33 per serving
  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds) -- $5.97
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt -- .05
  • 5 celery stalks with leaves, chopped -- $1.28
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped -- .35
  • 1 onion, chopped -- .50
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled -- .05
  • 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley -- .17
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill -- .17
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn -- .10
  • 2 dried bay leaves -- .10
  • $1.80 per serving (for 8 people)
  • $2.40 per serving (for 6 people)
Matzoh Balls:

    4 large eggs -- $1.00
    1 cup matzoh meal -- $2.56
    2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat, reserved from making broth), or duck fat --
    1 tablespoon kosher salt -- .05
    1 teaspoon baking powder -- .04
    1/4 cup seltzer water -- .10
    3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup) --.35
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper -- .10
    1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill -- .17
  • Matzoh Balls .47 per serving
  1. To make the broth: Rub the chicken with the salt inside and out. Let rest on a plate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Rinse very well under cold running water and then pat dry with paper towels.

  2. Put the chicken in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then skim off any foam that rises to the top. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley, dill, peppercorns, and bay leaves, and return the liquid to a boil. Skim again.

  3. Reduce the heat and let simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and, when cool enough to handle, take the meat off the bones (reserve the meat for another purpose). Return the bones to the pot and simmer for 1 hour more. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, discarding the solids. Cool the broth slightly, then refrigerate until cold, overnight or up to 3 days.

  4. Using a slotted spoon, skim off the solidified chicken fat from the broth. Save for making the matzoh balls or another purpose.

  5. To make the matzoh balls: In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, matzoh meal, schmaltz, salt, and baking powder. Add the seltzer and use a rubber spatula to mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  6. Fill a large, wide pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Fill a small bowl with cold water and have nearby to keep your hands clean and wet. Working gently, without pressing, use clean, wet hands to form 1/2-inch-round matzoh balls.

  7. As they are formed, drop them into the boiling water. When all the matzoh balls are formed, cover the pot with a round of parchment paper to keep them submerged (or partially cover the pot with a lid if you don't have parchment paper) and simmer very gently (don't let the water boil again) until cooked through and tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  8. Remove from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon, and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. If not using that day, let cool to room temperature, then store the matzoh balls in a single layer in an airtight container filled with cooled cooking liquid to cover for up to 2 days.

  9. To serve, gently heat the matzoh balls in a pot filled with matzoh ball cooking liquid or fresh water to cover (when the water comes to a simmer, taste a matzoh ball to see if it's hot enough, and either use immediately or continue to simmer until warmed to taste).

  10. In a separate pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the carrot rounds and simmer until soft, about 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the dill.

  11. Ladle the broth into individual serving bowls. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the warmed matzoh balls into the soup and serve

About Eric and Bruce Bromberg:

In the New York food scene, where there's a sea of restaurants geared towards trends, the fashion scene, tourists, or all of the above, Blue Ribbon restaurants have dared to ground their menus with timeless recipes. Keen to steer clear of passing fads, the eight Blue Ribbon establishments have staked their claim as leaders who have redefined

American food in an atmosphere that feels comfortable for any occasion. Now, after 17 successful years, they share the secrets to exceptional American brasserie dishes that will turn any home kitchen into an extension of the Blue Ribbon family in Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook.

Eric and Bruce Bromberg are the brothers that started it all. After training for several years in culinary school and kitchens in France and a few New York kitchens, the brothers decided to open a restaurant that was everything they'd ever wanted in a place to dine.

The idea was to create a reliable establishment that felt like an extension of home, where you can go for a regular, casual weeknight meal of Classic Herb-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Sage or dress up for a celebratory occasion over Seared Long Island Duck Breast with Cassis-Orange Sauce.

New York immediately took to the concept, and the Brombergs now have eight Blue Ribbon locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn with a ninth location currently in development.

For more information, visit www.blueribbonrestaurants.com

>> Buy this book on Amazon: Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Better Home Cooking

Please join the Bromberg Brothers for two book signings & appearance:

A book signing and demo at Williams-Sonoma on Friday, 4/23 at 12 p.m. It's a lunchtime class, and attendance is limited to the first 40 customers. You must call for tickets in advcance.

Williams-Sonoma Union Square
340 Post St. San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: (415) 362-9450
Website: www.williams-sonoma.com

Omnivore Books on Saturday, April 24th at 3 p.m.
3885 Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131-2013
Phone: (415) 282-4712
Website: www.omnivorebooks.com

You can also meet the Brothers on Thurdsday, April 22 at 9 p.m. at The Stanford Court Renaissance San Francisco Hotel
905 California Street
Nob Hill San Francisco, California 94108
Website: www.therenaissancelife.com

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