For the chicken stock:
Bones from a 4-5 lb. roasted chicken*
1 large onion, quartered (unpeeled is fine)
5 celery stalks, cut in half
4 large carrots, cut in half
1 head of garlic, cut crosswise
8 sprigs parsley
6 sprigs thyme
10 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
*We often use leftover bones from a roasted chicken. The meat is stripped from the bones and used in all sorts of recipes. You can also make the stock with the whole uncooked chicken, but we like the flavor of the bones and the meat when roasted.
Put all ingredients in a stock pot (about a 12-quart pot) and fill with water until its covered by 1-2 inches water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 3 hours, adding water if needed. (We cook ours on the lowest setting, overnight)
Strain the broth and set aside. This can be done ahead of time. Stock can be frozen for later use as well.
For the Matzo Balls:
¾ C. matzo meal, this equals about 2-3 sheets of matzo crackers (do not use matzo mix!)
3 large eggs
¼ cup of schmaltz, melted**
3 Tablespoons of club soda
1 ¼ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
**When we roast our chickens in the oven, we reserve the chicken fat that collects in the bottom of the pan for later use. A rich, delicious add-in to many dishes and helps make use of the whole bird.
Place matzo crackers in a food processor and pulse into fine texture. (There will be some pieces that are a little courser, that’s ok.) If you do not have a food processor, place in zip bag and smash with meat mallet or rolling pin. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. It will appear wet and runny but will firm up as it rests. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to a day ahead. Keep covered and chilled.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Lightly wet hands and roll matzo into balls, about 1 ½ inches wide (They will expand when cooked). Gently place the matzo balls in the simmering water and cook for 20 minutes. They will start to sink as they cook.
To assemble the soup:
½ - ¾ C. carrots, chopped
1/3 C. celery, chopped
1 C. cooked chicken (chopped, shredded, diced…whatever you have!)
Fresh dill, roughly chopped
Heat the broth and add carrots and celery until soft, about 8 minutes. Add chicken and let it heat through. Place a matzo ball in a soup bowl and ladle broth over the matzo ball. Add some fresh chopped dill to garnish. Enjoy!