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Roasted Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Roasted Chicken Matzo Ball Soup_recipe from Jew-Ish by Jake Cohen. Photo (c) Matt Taylor-GrossHow do you like your balls? It’s one of the more divisive questions in the Jewish community. Obviously, I’m referring to balls of the matzo variety, but I’m happy to discuss all others in my DMs. The two schools of thought we shall debate today are small and dense or huge and fluffy. As you know, for every five Jews there about fifteen opinions, but this happens to be a topic that I don’t passionately take a side on. My balls fall somewhere in between, greased up with a healthy amount of schmaltz. I want them to be fluffy and easily scooped with the touch of a spoon, while also modest in size, so I can have two, of course.

You can easily make these matzo balls and add them to my Saffron Chicken Noodle Soup, but I wanted to create a flavorful broth that was easy to throw together, since if you’re making matzo balls, you’re probably cooking up a storm for entertaining, a holiday, or both. By roasting the chicken legs and vegetables first, you’re able to fortify the golden broth faster while imparting even more flavor. And you better believe I have chunks of chicken and vegetables in my broth. There’s nothing sadder than matzo balls served in chicken soup without any of the chicken, so I’m giving you all the meat you deserve.

My only request: If you make this recipe, be sure to send me a pic of your balls!

Roasted Chicken Matzo Ball Soup_recipe from Jew-Ish by Jake Cohen. Photo (c) Matt Taylor-Gross

Roasted Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Jake Cohen
A note about Schmaltz: Butter is great, don’t get me wrong. But few fats add as much flavor and richness as schmaltz—an essential ingredient to Ashkenazi cooking made from rendered chicken or goose fat, traditionally flavored with fried onions. You can get your hands on it one of two ways. You can head to the butcher or supermarket meat counter and buy containers of it. Or, if you cook as much chicken as I do, you can make it yourself! Save all the skin and fat trimmings you get before cooking, as well as those sweet pan drippings after roasting—not mandatory or traditional, but a personal favorite—and store them in the freezer. Once you have about 3 cups (¾ pound) skin and fat trimmings, combine them in a medium saucepan with whatever pan drippings you saved and enough water to just cover. Bring to a simmer and then cook over medium-low heat until all the water has evaporated and the chicken skin begins to brown, about 45 minutes. Throw in 1 yellow onion, minced, and cook until lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and let cool. (The strained fried chicken cracklings and onions are called gribenes, a shtetl classic, and should 100 percent be eaten fresh over bread or absolutely anything, with zero shame and zero expectation of sharing with others.) Store the schmaltz in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 6 -8 servings


For the Matzo Balls

  • 2 cups matzo meal
  • 1/2 cup schmaltz (see headnote), melted
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup seltzer water

For the Soup

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (4 medium)
  • 1 pound carrots (4 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips (4 large), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the Compound Schmaltz (makes about 1 cup)

  • 1 cup schmaltz, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated


The Matzo Balls and the Soup

  • For the matzo balls: In a large bowl, stir together the matzo meal, melted schmaltz (see below), dill, salt, and eggs until smooth. Gently stir in the seltzer until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Scoop the chilled matzo mixture into ¼-cup balls, using wet hands to roll them until smooth. You should have about 14 matzo balls. Gently add the matzo balls, one at a time, to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until fluffy and tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes, then keep warm until the soup is ready.
  • For the soup: While the matzo balls cook, preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • On a half sheet pan, toss together the chicken legs, carrots, parsnips, onion, olive oil, and a heavy pinch each of salt and pepper, then arrange the legs skin-side up on the pan. Roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables and chicken are lightly golden.
  • Transfer the vegetables and chicken to a large pot and cover with the stock and 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook until the chicken is extremely tender, about 30 minutes. Using a ladle, skim off any fat from the top of the liquid and discard. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  • Transfer the chicken legs to a bowl and let cool slightly. Once they are cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred the meat and discard the skin and bones. Stir the shredded chicken, dill, and lemon zest into the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked matzo balls to serving bowls, then ladle the soup over and serve.

The Compound Schmaltz

  • In a small bowl, stir together the schmaltz, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, lemon zest, and garlic until well incorporated. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


From Jew-ish by Jake Cohen. Copyright © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Keyword carrots, chicken, Matzo, Onions, soup, stock, Vegetables

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