Matzo Ball Soup

“You’ll never guess what Bobby Flay’s ‘Throwdown’ dish is tonight!”

My mother-in-law called me immediately when she saw the Food Network promos for the “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” episode featuring matzo ball soup. I set my DVR to record it right away – I was going to need all the tips and techniques I could get. When she and my father-in-law were out here visiting from the East Coast a week earlier she suggested that I try out her longtime recipe for matzo ball soup. As it turns out, she had cut out the recipe from a box of Horowitz-Margareten Matzoh Meal almost 40 years ago. With Passover approaching, the opportunity to try out this “vintage” on-the-package recipe was irresistible.

The "vintage" on-the-package recipe my mother-in-law has followed for years

I have to confess, I was initially a bit intimidated by matzo balls. You hear all the horror stories of really bad ones – thick, dense, spongy. Even my food blogging friend, Lydia, admitted to having made some her family described as “depth charges”. How was I, someone who had only ever eaten matzo ball soup maybe once in her life, going to defy the odds and make light, fluffy, flavorful dumplings? My solution: absorb all the advice I could come by. And it worked!

With the guidance of my in-laws, that “Throwdown” episode and a number of recipes I found online I am incredibly proud to report that I actually made tasty matzo balls that float! Now, I did deviate from the Horowitz-Margareten recipe in three key places to make it happen. First, in place of cold water I used seltzer (or “club soda”, as we know it on the west coast) which I heard over and over again was key to fluffy matzo balls. And rather than oil or shortening, I used schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, which provided wonderfully rich flavor. Lastly, I allowed the matzo mixture to rest in the refrigerator for about 5 hours rather than 20 minutes. Bobby Flay actually let his stand overnight, which I would have done if I’d had the time. I can’t say for sure which of these techniques had the greatest impact, but collectively they produced a terrific result.

Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers

Matzo Ball Soup

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  1. Maria wrote:

    I have never made matzo balls. Yours look perfect! The photos are stunning!

    Maria’s last blog post..Monkey Bread Muffins

    Posted 4.6.09 Reply
  2. Congratulations — you have achieved Matzoh Ball perfection, on your very first try!

    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)’s last blog post..Ro*Tel (Recipe: Tex-Mex turkey lasagne)

    Posted 4.6.09 Reply
  3. Melissa wrote:

    Deb’s is the one I’ve had bookmarked forever. Thanks for doing this one because I’m a first timer too and need tips! Yours looks fantastic. 🙂

    Melissa’s last blog post..perfecting a classic

    Posted 4.6.09 Reply
  4. RecipeGirl wrote:

    This looks absolutely perfect!

    RecipeGirl’s last blog post..Mini Carrot Cake Cheesecakes with Cream Cheese Icing (& Marzipan Carrots)

    Posted 4.7.09 Reply
  5. Dragon wrote:

    This soup looks so warm and comforting. Perfect for a cold night like this. 🙂

    Posted 4.7.09 Reply
  6. Jackie wrote:

    You would have gotten my vote if it were you for a Throwdown against Bobby Flay! It looks de-li-cious

    Jackie’s last blog post..Kumquat Preserves

    Posted 4.7.09 Reply
  7. Irene wrote:

    Great tutorial, thank you! I’ve never heard of using seltzer, but it sounds like fun and I need to try it this Passover.

    Irene’s last blog post..Buttermilk Honey Loaf

    Posted 4.8.09 Reply
  8. Susan wrote:

    Great idea to let the batter set for more than the 20 minutes suggested in the recipe. I followed your recipe and let the mixture set for about 8 hours. The matzoh balls looked perfect and were so light they practically jumped out of the soup!

    Posted 4.12.09 Reply
  9. Jamie wrote:

    THAT is the recipe my parents used and had taped down in some notebook exactly like that! LOL! And we used to have arguments as kids whether light and fluffy or dense and chewy were better. Everyone their favorite (I like them dense). Yours do look perfect!

    Jamie’s last blog post..TWO-FER

    Posted 4.14.09 Reply
  10. Denise wrote:

    I too was inspired to make matzo ball soup after seeing the Throwdown episode. I didn’t tape it so was glad to see your recipe and all of the guidance notes. Thanks so much.

    Posted 4.20.09 Reply
  11. Allison wrote:

    Thanks for the tip sharing! Now I will get started on my matzo making tonight, rather than tomorrow. I’m a vegetarian, so I’ll be making it in a veggie broth. Mmmmm. I can’t wait for dinner tomorrow!
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..super sweet giveaway =-.

    Posted 3.29.10 Reply
  12. Ahria wrote:

    I have the very same “vintage” recipe my mother sent to me many years ago when I left NY for California. She said it was “foolproof” as long as you refrigerated the batter first! One year i forgot that the balls “blew up” to about 4 times the size, and we had matzah balls that year that barely left room in the bowl for the broth, but who cares about the broth when you have matzah balls! And they were still light and fluffy!!
    Thanks Mom!

    Posted 4.15.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      It definitely was one worth saving all these years, right? 🙂

      Posted 4.16.11 Reply
  13. Cynthia wrote:

    Wow! The picture of your soup is so beautiful! I am impressed that this was your first attempt. The first time I tried to make Matzoh ball soup, I failed miserably, making Matzoh balls that sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Today I’m making another attempt and am inspired by your hints and tips. Thank you for this 🙂

    Posted 4.16.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Hope all works out well, Cynthia!

      Posted 4.16.11 Reply
  14. This looks fabulous!

    Posted 4.18.11 Reply
  15. Maria wrote:

    I’ve never made matzo ball soup. Now I want to try it. It looks great!

    Posted 4.18.11 Reply
  16. You did an awesome job! Well done! 🙂

    Posted 4.18.11 Reply
  17. Courtney wrote:

    I’ve never used fat in my matzo balls, definitely something to try!

    Posted 5.14.11 Reply
  18. Happy wrote:

    I found your recipe 1 month ago… my hubby loves matzo ball soup & hadn’t had it in quite a while. So I decided to try my hand at it. Funny thing is I didn’t think to ask him which camp he was for until I was already making the little balls. He said he likes the ones that sink… I told him too bad that these should be light & float. Which they did! And, he said that these were how he liked them! That he’d just never had it any other way! So THANK YOU! I did cook the chicken stock 2-3 hrs. And let the matzo ball mixture sit over night. I accidently didn’t put a lid on it till after 11mins… so I let them cook under the lid 15 mins. So yummy even for this non-matzo ball eater. Plus seeing those little puffs float!

    Posted 5.18.12 Reply
    • That’s fantastic – so glad to hear they worked out well for you guys!

      Posted 5.19.12 Reply
  19. Michael Strahs wrote:

    Looking forward to your matzo ball soup again this year!

    Posted 3.14.13 Reply