Chicken soup and matzo balls recipe

Chicken soup and matzo balls – a Jewish family classic.

“Every Jewish family thinks their mother’s chicken soup is the best. In emergencies, I have been known to send my soup across London in a taxi, because this ‘Jewish penicillin’ most definitely has healing qualities,” says Lennie Ware.

“Reminiscent of Friday nights spent with family when I was a girl, the fragrance of the simmering soup is delicious. Chicken soup is synonymous with every Jewish household, and is one of the things that makes me most proud to be Jewish. Serve with matzo crackers and challah bread.”

Chicken soup and matzo balls from Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware

(Serves 6 – makes about 2L)

For the soup:
2kg chicken thighs and legs
5 large onions, skins left on, halved, cutting off the rooty bit
8 carrots, sliced about
2–3cm thick
4 celery sticks, with leaves, halved
1 leek, halved
½ swede
2tbsp Telma Chicken Soup Mix (available from kosher shops or online), or 2 good quality chicken stock cubes
1tsp whole black peppercorns
1tsp salt

For the matzo balls:
(Makes about 15)

100g medium matzo meal
1tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
1tbsp rapeseed oil
4tbsp hot chicken soup (see above) or boiling water

Undated Handout Photo of chicken soup and matzo balls from Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware (Ebury Press, £22). See PA Feature FOOD Table Manners. Picture credit should read: Ola O Smit/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FOOD Table Manners


1. Make the soup: Put the chicken and all the vegetables in a stockpot or very large pan (about four litres capacity) with enough cold water to cover everything by about 5cm (about three litres) and bring to the boil. When boiling, skim off all the frothy scum until there is none left. Add the soup mix or stock cubes, the peppercorns and salt, bring back to the boil and then reduce
the heat and gently simmer for two to three hours.

2. Season the soup to taste, then leave to cool. Pour the soup through a colander into a large bowl. Carefully retrieve the carrots from the colander and add back to the soup. Give everything else a good squeeze to release the juices. Some people put a little of the chicken into the soup, but I’m not sure it has much taste after being boiled for so long – and you will make your cat/dog very happy if you give them the bone-free chicken meat.

3. Put the clear soup and carrots into the fridge for at least two hours or overnight. When it’s well chilled the fat will rise to the top and you can easily skim it off.

4. Make the matzo balls: Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, gradually stir in the eggs and oil and then gradually add the four tablespoons of hot chicken soup, mixing until smooth. Cover the bowl and chill for 30 minutes – it will firm up slightly.

5. Line a tray with baking parchment. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

6. Wet your fingers and take small pieces of the mixture to make soft balls, about 2cm in diameter, placing them on the lined tray until you have used up all the mixture.

7. Drop the balls into the boiling water, turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 20–25 minutes until they are soft. They should swell up
slightly, rise to the surface and look like little clouds. Lift out using a slotted spoon.

8. To serve, bring the soup to the boil over a medium heat and add your cooked matzo balls just before serving.

Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware, photography by Ola O Smit, is published by Ebury Press, priced £22. Available now.