I am the worst kind of lover. When I have it, I take it for granted. I love ’em, leave ’em and never look back. However, when love is gone, I long for it — desperately, insatiably, craving just one more touch upon my tongue. And this, my friends, sums up my true stomach-aching story: I’ve had a long, tumultuous, heart-stopping love affair with soup.
Living on the East coast, I could walk to any deli, noodle shop or food truck and grab a bowl of steamy pleasure whenever I wanted. I wouldn’t think twice about sipping, slurping or savoring hot broth, but I would always complain or grumble when drops of soup trickled off my face and onto my scarf or blouse. Because soup was available everywhere, I took for granted how warm and comforting a savory cup of tomato and basil could be, how intriguing and fulfilling layers of beef pho with fresh veggies could fill my belly or how decadent and spoiled a seafood velouté would make me feel. Oh Soup, I never fully appreciated you and I’m sorry. I miss you more than you know.
OK, I know I’m being dramatic, but allow me to explain. I now live in Florida and there is no soup to be had – nothing, nada, nowhere. There are no deli’s or diners with daily soup specials. There are no ramen shops or noodle counters to speak of. Curry houses and soup bars are non-exisistent. And food trucks? Forget it.
Yes, I know there are some restaurants here and there that offer soup. But soup in Florida always seems to miss the mark. Aside from the grab and go convenience that we love on the East Coast, there is a comfort factor that is absent. Soup has to wake your tastebuds, coat your throat and fill your body with soothing energy. I’ve found that in order to assuage my troubled soul and to quench my longings, I must turn to my own kitchen and rely on my own culinary abilities.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Emilio’s Caldo Gallego, a hearty and savory soup from the hills of Spain. Today, I give you my rendition of chicken and matzoh ball soup, where both ingredients are combined into one. I use ground chicken and matzoh meal to make moist little meatballs, all cooked in a vegetable and chicken broth. It takes about 30 minutes to come together, and every delicious slurp reminds me of why it’s so important to appreciate good soup. Soup is simple, easy, delicate and nutritious. It’s comforting, soothing and warm, and something I promise to never take for granted again.
Chicken Matzoh Meatball Soup
1 lbs. ground chicken (I use white meat)
2 packets matzoh ball mix (I use Manischewitz)
2 eggs, gently scrambled
1/2 large onion, grated or finely minced
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
Additional oil for quick saute
Salt to taste (I recommend kosher)
- Heat a heavy stockpot over medium high heat with a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil. Add the grated onion and stir frequently, do not allow onions to brown. When onions are translucent, after 1-2 minutes, remove from heat and place in a bowl. Allow onions to cool.
- Add the ground chicken, eggs, matzoh meal, 2 tablespoons of oil and chopped parsley to the onions. Add a generous teaspoon of kosher salt. Use your hands to combine well. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- With the same stockpot used for the onions, return to medium high heat. Add a little more oil, then quickly saute the chopped celery and carrots. After 1-2 minutes, when the vegetables begin to soften, add the chicken broth and water. Lower the heat and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Raise the heat on the soup to high and bring to a rolling boil. Using a small portion scoop, a spoon or your hands, form the meat mixture into small 1-inch balls. Drop the balls into the soup until the entire mixture is used. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. The meatballs will expand and float to the top, so use a spoon to bob and turn the balls every 5 minutes or so.
- After 15 minutes, add the spinach and stir into the soup. Adjust seasonings if needed. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes longer.
- Take the soup off the heat, remove the lid, and allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately following.