Matzo Ball Soup a la Mexicana
The chef Fany Gerson’s spicy, dynamic take on a classic matzo ball soup is a staple of her Rosh Hashana table. The broth gets a bright kick from green chiles, cilantro and garlic; the matzo balls are blended with onions and fresh herbs (use an extra-large pot to prevent the balls from overcrowding); and the finished soup is garnished with even more onions, chiles and cilantro, plus avocado and lime for freshness and color. The broth calls for two chickens, even though you use the meat from only one of the chickens shredded in the soup. Ms. Gerson says using two chickens boosts the flavor of the broth, and you can use the meat from the second one the following day for enchiladas or tacos.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), or 1 chicken (4 to 5 pounds), plus 8 whole chicken wings
- 4large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3celery stalks, cut into chunks
- 1 ½medium white onions, peeled and quartered
- 1to 2 Serrano peppers, sliced lengthwise
- 1leek, split lengthwise and cut into chunks
- 1large garlic clove, peeled
- 8sprigs cilantro
- 8sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 2bay leaves
- About 6 black peppercorns
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 ¼cups matzo meal
- 2 ½teaspoons kosher salt
- ½teaspoon baking powder
- ½teaspoon baking soda
- ¼teaspoon black pepper
- 5large eggs, 3 of them separated
- ⅓cup grated white onion, squeezed in a dish towel to remove excess liquid
- ¼cup rendered chicken or duck fat, or use vegetable oil
- 3tablespoons finely minced herbs, such as dill, flatleaf parsley or chives, or a combination
- 1small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2Serrano peppers (or 1 jalapeño pepper), seeded and finely chopped
- 1cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1to 2 avocados, diced
- 3to 4 limes, cut into wedges
- 1sprig fresh epazote
Step 1Prepare the broth: Place all the ingredients except the salt in a large soup pot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Skim off any foam, add salt and simmer, partially covered, until the chickens have fully cooked, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Step 2Carefully remove one of the chickens from the broth and transfer to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken and reserve meat, ladling a small amount of broth over it to keep it from drying out, then cover and set aside. Discard the skin and return the bones to the pot. Continue cooking the broth at a high simmer for about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to replenish. Turn off the heat and let cool. Strain and discard vegetables and bones, reserving the second chicken for another preparation (such as shredding it to use in enchiladas).
Step 3About an hour before the broth is done, make the matzo balls: In a large bowl, combine the matzo meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda and black pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs with the 3 yolks, the grated onion, the chicken fat and the minced herbs. In another medium bowl, beat the 3 egg whites by hand or with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir the egg-yolk mixture into the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the beaten egg whites and mix until incorporated. Gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the batter and refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 4Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Fill a small bowl with water and set aside. Scoop mounds of the matzo batter (about 1 tablespoon each) onto the baking sheet. Using the water to keep your hands moist, as needed, roll each scoop of batter into a ball, handling as gently as possible.
Step 5Return the chicken broth to a simmer and season with salt, if needed. Add the matzo balls as gently as possible and cook over moderate heat, turning them a few times, until they are plump and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir the shredded chicken into the soup and cook just until the meat is warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Step 6Serve soup with onions, chiles, cilantro, epazote, avocado and lime wedges on the side, so everyone can garnish as they like.