Tiny Matzoh Ball Soup

'Passover' by Chef Michelle Bernstein


1 chicken, about 4 pounds, skinned, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 6 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts)

2 cups minced Spanish onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 bay leaf

About 4 quarts chicken stock

2 cups chayote ¼-inch dice (can be replaced by pumpkin, calabaza, or jicama)

2 cups peeled sweet potato, ¼-inch dice (from about 1 large potato)

2 medium ears of corn, cut into ¼-inch rounds

½ cup dill leaves, picked and roughly chopped

1 Serrano chili, sliced very thin

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and Pepper

Matzoh balls, (recipe follows)


Put the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf in a large stockpot and cover with cold chicken broth or cold water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, moist, and tender, about 1 hour.  Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Shred the meat. Set aside while you make the matzoh balls.


Matzoh balls

1¼ cup matzoh meal

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

5 eggs, 3 separated

¼ cup melted chicken fat or duck fat (known as schmaltz)

¼ cup minced yellow onion

Oil for your hands


In a large bowl, whisk together the matzoh meal, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs with the 3 yolks, fat and onion.  In a separate bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Stir the schmaltz mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in one-third of the beaten egg whites until incorporated.  The mix will be on the dry side.  Fold in the remaining whites as gently as possible until no streaks remain.  Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the batter and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or overnight, until firm.


Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.  In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of water.  Scoop ½ -tablespoon-size mounds of the matzoh batter onto the baking sheet.  Using the oil-and-water mixture to keep your hands moist, roll each scoop of batter into a ball, handling them as gently as possible.

Return the chicken soup to a simmer.  Add the matzoh balls and add the chayote, sweet potato, corn, dill, and Serrano to the pot.

Cover and cook over moderate heat, turning the matzoh balls a few times, until they are plump and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Stir the shredded chicken into the soup and cook just until the meat is warmed through, about 2 minutes.  Add the cilantro.  Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve immediately.