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Hot and Sour Matzo Ball Soup Puts a Spicy Twist on a Passover Staple

By Tom Liddy | March 25, 2013 2:36pm

NEW YORK CITY — One of the most traditional foods in Jewish culture, matzo ball soup is the perfect accompaniment to a Passover seder meal.

The richness of homemade chicken broth and the matzo dumplings are a taste of comfort at the beginning of the holiday.

This recipe takes the classic dish to the next level, combining a delicious chicken stock with the heat and bite of a tom yum-style Thai soup.

For the key ingredient, this recipe uses whole matzo in place of matzo meal, making the dumplings lighter and adding texture.

Instead of the traditional chicken fat, I substituted sesame oil and added black sesame seeds for color and flavor, garlic and cilantro for some freshness and color.

A vibrant broth with the heat of red chili and the zip of lemongrass, ginger and rice wine vinegar, the soup eats like a meal and is perfect for the holiday or any day.

Here's how to make it tonight.


For the stock:

1 4-5 pound chicken

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

1 large white onion, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, split in half

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tbs. kosher salt

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

For the soup:

1 stalk lemongrass, tough end and leaves removed and cut into thirds

1 tbs. chili garlic sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Thai chili, seeds removed and chopped (optional if you want extra heat)

1 knob of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (about a tablespoon)

3 green onions, chopped

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

Sugar Snap peas (two handfuls)

Shitake mushrooms (about 6 ounces)

1 chicken breast (from the stock), cut into large dice

For the matzo balls:

5 Matzo

3 eggs

2 tsp. sesame seeds (black, if you can get them; toasted if you get regular)

¼ cup chopped cilantro

½ tsp. Kosher salt

Ground pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. toasted sesame oil


For the stock (you can skip this step and use store-bought stock, but homemade is much better).

1. Rinse the chicken and place in a large pot. Cover the bird with water and add the vegetables, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and rosemary.

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low so that the stock bubbles lightly. The pot should be covered.

3. After about an hour, carefully remove the chicken from the stock and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

4. Carve off the breasts, legs and wings and then return the carcass to the stock. Simmer another 2-3 hours.

5. Strain the soup, pressing the solids against the side of a sieve to extract all of the flavor.

6. Allow the stock to cool and then refrigerate if you're making the night before.

For the soup:

1. Heat about 7 cups of stock until simmering.

2. Heat a wok or medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, lemongrass and ginger and sautee for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Then add the chili garlic paste and cook another 2 minutes.

3. Add the stock and the green onions and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the matzo balls by breaking up the matzo into small pieces using your hands or a mortar and pestle.

5. Add the eggs, sesame seeds, cilantro, garlic powder, salt, pepper and matzo as well as 1 cup of the hot stock and mix with your hands.

6. Form the matzo into balls and place in the fridge for about 5 minutes to firm up.

7. Carefully place the matzo balls in the broth and simmer for another 10 minutes until cooked through.

8. Add the diced, cooked chicken breast and snap peas and cook another 3 minutes until the meat is heated through.

7. Serve and garnish with some chopped cilantro.