Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mock-zoh Ball Soup

This soup could also go by another name, Shiksa Ball Soup!  I use that term very affectionately towards  myself.   When I was a sophomore in High School, I dated a very sweet, talented Jewish boy.  He was a senior.  He played piano.  And I instantly fell in love.  I'm a sucker for cute musicians, what can I say?

Let's just say that this boy's Mother was not fond of me and would refer to me as "Danny's Little Shiksa".  She wouldn't him take me to the prom, either.  Oh well.  Looking back, I'm not heartbroken at all.  He was a great guy, and he helped me develop a love for Billy Joel.  LOL :)

Well, I do have a love of other Jewish things, too.  Matzoh Ball Soup just to name one.  I usually buy the mix, because, being a Shiksa means that I didn't have a bubbie to teach me the fine art of matzoh ball making.  I, of course, always doctor the recipe....that's just who I am!  The other day, I was very sick, and craving the healing powers of a good Jewish mama's Matzoh Ball soup.  I had one box left in my cabinet and made it.

Upon sharing on FB that I was eating this, a good friend's daughter was jealous that I was having it.  Her mom had just had surgery and I was planning on making a meal to take over anyway, so I decided that I would try to make them some.  But I was out of boxes, and being sick myself, did NOT feel like driving to the store.  That, and she's a very good friend who deserves a meal that's not from a box. I thought to myself, "Self, this shouldn't be TOO hard, should it?"  So I scoured my cabinets to see what I had.  Country Pride Chicken Legs, Carrots, Celery, Chef's Cupboard Boullion....but alas, no Matzohs!  What was I going to do??????  I hopped on the internet in search of recipes for making matzohs with saltines, or oyster crackers or something.  All scared me.  That somehow trying to make this coveted soup without matzohs would fail miserably.  Not one to be deterred, I experimented.  And here's what I came up with.

WARNING:  The process is long, and arduous, and while you COULD take short cuts, you need to ask yourself, would my Grandmother (and if you're Jewish, your Bubbie) take shortcuts if making this soup.  Invariably, the answer would be "no".  So, try to avoid if possible. *if you wanted to take shortcuts, use the Fit & Active Chicken Broth (you'll need 2 boxes) to replace the broth, and use Carlini Vegetable oil in the mock-zah balls.

Mock-zoh Ball Soup

Make the Broth - this is a LONG process, and best done the day before you're planning on making the soup.  (or if you happen to be in the habit of making your own stock, you can use that reserve, just make sure to save the rendered chicken fat in another container and freeze as well).  Not adding brand names to the chicken and vegetables because I know they can vary by Aldi based on the supplier. :)

4 large chicken legs
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 onion

Place the legs in a large stock pot, cut vegetables in large chunks and place in the pot.  Cover chicken with cold water.  Place on the stove, and over medium heat bring pot to a boil.  Keep at a simmer, uncovered for about 2 hours.  The chicken legs will begin to float.  After about 2-3 hours, you can remove the chicken legs and harvest the meat off the bones.  Put the bones back in the broth and continue to cook down until the liquid is about half gone - this makes a very rich, thick, delicious stock.  It is not seasoned with salt and pepper yet, you want to wait on that.

Set aside the harvested chicken meat and pull apart into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside and refrigerate.  You want about 2 or 3 cups to put in the soup later.

After about 5 hours, drain the stock over a colander to remove the bones and solid.  Allow stock to cool, and the fat to rise to the top.  You will skim off this fat, but you will NOT throw it away, this is called "schmaltz" and is a rendered chicken fat that is used in the process of making the matzoh balls.  While you could use oil or butter or another fat, you'll miss out on the flavor that the schmaltz imparts.

For the Soup
1 Pot of homemade stock, fat removed (and saved!!!)
3 Chef's Cupboard Chicken Boullion Cubes (intensifies the broth's flavor)
2 large carrots, chopped (I cut mine in coins, then in matchsticks)
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1 small onion (or a tbs of dried minced onion)
1 clove garlic (minced, or left whole and removed later)

Saute diced carrot, onion and celery in about a tbs of oil in a large soup pot.  If you're using the dried onion, do not add at this step) Continue to cook until the celery is just about translucent.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the reserved chicken meat BEFORE you put in the mock-zoh balls.

For the Mock-zoh balls
3/4 Cup crushed Savoritz Oyster Crackers (crush first, then measure)
1/2 Tsp Stonemill Classics Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Stonemill Classics Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Stonemill Classics Italian Seasoning
2 Golden Hen Eggs, beaten
1/4-1/3 Cup Schmaltz (warmed up so it's liquid)

Mix everything together in a small bowl and set aside.  This will be a touch liquid, but as it sits the crackers will soak up the liquid.  This should soak for a minimum of 15 minutes, preferably 30 if you can wait.

After that time, you can make the mock-zoh balls by using a small cookie scoop, and rolling in your hands.  They will be very soft, be very gentle with them, and drop them into the boiling broth very gently.

Cover the soup pot and reduce heat so that it is at a constant simmer.  Cook for 30-40 minutes until the mock-zoh balls have puffed and are pillowy.  Serve as close to immediately as possible.

Feel loved, and warmed, and healed from the inside out.

***NOTE:  report back from friend (and I agree), consistency was good, but taste is much different than a matzoh ball ***

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