A Bowl of Warmth and History

A steaming bowl of matzo ball soup is the ultimate comfort food, whether eaten during a traditional Passover meal – known as a Seder – or all year round. Matzo balls can be compared to dumplings, and they are truly the star of this dish. But where does matzo ball soup come from? While the exact origin of the soup is unknown, the staple ingredient of matzo meal comes from the unleavened bread that was eaten by the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Matzo, like many of the other elements of a traditional Seder, is deeply symbolic and is eaten in remembrance of Jewish history.

Whether you are preparing for a special meal or are looking for something to warm you up on a cold day, give the recipe below a try and tag AmaWaterways on social media to share your creation!


For Chicken Stock
  • 1 4–5-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 lb. chicken wings, necks and/or backs
  • 2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Matzo Ball Mixture
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • ¼ cup schmaltz (melted) OR vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons club soda
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 small carrots, peeled, sliced ¼” thick on a diagonal
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Recipe Preparation

Chicken stock:
  • Bring all ingredients and 12 cups cold water to a boil in a very large (at least 12-qt.) stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer breasts to a plate (remaining chicken parts are strictly for stock). Let breasts cool slightly, then remove meat and return bones to stock. Shred meat. Let cool, tightly wrap, and chill.
  • Continue to simmer stock, skimming surface occasionally, until reduced by one-third, about 2 hours. Strain chicken stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan (or airtight container, if not using right away); discard solids. You should have about 8 cups.
  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Keep reserved chicken meat chilled.
Matzo ball mixture:
  • Mix eggs, matzo meal, schmaltz, club soda and salt in a medium bowl (mixture will resemble wet sand; it will firm up as it rests). Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
  • DO AHEAD: Mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
  • Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add carrots; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat, add reserved breast meat and cover. Set soup aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out 2-tablespoonful portions matzo ball mixture and, using wet hands, gently roll into balls.
  • Add matzo balls to water and reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer (too much bouncing around will break them up). Cover pot and cook matzo balls until cooked through and starting to sink, 20–25 minutes.
  • DO AHEAD: Using a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to bowls. Ladle soup over, top with dill, and season with pepper.

To experience more Jewish and Middle Eastern history, culture and cuisine up close, join us on our Secrets of Egypt and the Nile itinerary.

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