After an entire weekend of subsisting on nothing but dry toast and soup (I was unfairly attacked by the flu) I finally felt well enough to make a meal for myself, substantial enough to fill me up but at the same time soupy enough for my sore throat. Solution: matzo ball soup! I remembered I had a box of Manischewitz in my pantry I had bought around Passover, out of curiosity. I’ve had matzo ball soup only once before at Atwater’s, a big bowl of love, hot and steaming, in the shape of homemade fluffy dough balls. There were tender pieces of pulled white chicken meat, carrots and celery to eat along with every spoonful of dumpling and broth. At the bottom of that bowl, I had discovered a new woman in me, one who was earnest to learn more about Jewish cooking.
What I love about matzo balls is ultimately the nature of their texture; soft, light, springy, and yet quite resilient to heat and all that poking and prodding. Because they’re porous, they soak up all that aromatic broth and hold it like a sponge. Much different from the dumplings in chicken and dumplings or sour beef and dumplings, but equally as hearty and satisfying.
There are so many layers to this dish that you can’t help but understand the tradition, family, and love that lie behind it. The many hours it takes to make the broth, the ritual of picking the chicken meat, and the tenderness it takes to shape each individual dumpling on well-seasoned palms. My attempt was slightly haphazard, as I threw most of my ingredients together instead of taking the time to go through the steps, but it turned out brilliantly and definitely was a welcome meal for my stomach after being sick. Next time, I’ll make the broth from scratch and use fresh cilantro and parsley.