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For the Matzoh Balls
12 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup rendered chicken fat (see Note)
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups matzoh meal
My Mother's Chicken Soup (recipe follows), for serving
8 small sprigs fresh dill, for garnish
For the Soup
1 stewing hen (5 1/2 to 6 pounds), rinsed, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
2 onions, quartered
4 ribs celery with leaves, cut in half
4 parsnips, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and quartered
12 sprigs fresh dill, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
Combine the egg yolks, chicken fat, salt and pepper in a bowl and blend with an electric mixer.
Place the egg whites in another bowl, and using clean beaters, beat them until they are stiff.
Using a large rubber spatula, fold the whites into the yolk mixture.
Fold in the matzoh meal, using just enough so that the balls hold together.
Form the mixture into 20 balls the size of large plums and place them on a large platter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully lower the matzo balls into the water in batches, using a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the balls float and are enlarged and delicate, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the balls from the water and drain them on paper towels.
When you are ready to serve it, place the chicken soup over medium heat. Add the matzoh balls and heat through for the flavors to blend, 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place 2 matzoh balls in each soup bowl. Ladle the soup over it, and garnish with a dill sprig.
My Mother's Chicken Soup
My mother, Berta, is the Chicken Soup Queen of All Time. As would every great cook, she will tell you, "It starts with using the best-quality ingredients." It takes a little longer and costs a little more to make a soup this way, but what flavor! Fluffy Matzoh Balls and fresh dill finish it off to perfection.
|1.||Place the chicken pieces in a large soup pot. Add 10 cups water and the coarse salt and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
|2.||Add the onions, celery, parsnips, carrots, and dill sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken and vegetables are tender, 1 hour.
|3.||Transfer the chicken to a bowl and use the meat elsewhere if desired (it will be tough). Strain the broth through a medium-fine strainer into a large bowl, pressing the vegetables and dill through the strainer with the back of a spoon. If not using immediately, let the soup cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it, covered, for up to 2 days, or freeze it.
|4.||To serve, first remove any fat that has accumulated on the surface. Then return the soup to a pot and stir in the chopped dill. Heat through.
Note To render chicken fat, place the fat, cut into small pieces, in a skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat has melted. Cool slightly and then strain, discarding the bits of chicken skin. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.