Cabbage has been trending for the past year or so, and what better way to add a little extra flavor into chicken soup than these caramelized cabbage matzah balls. For light and fluffy matzah balls, I like to fold in furiously whisked egg whites. The other most important tip for extra light matzah balls is to always handle them with care. Dip your hands in cold water and gently form them into small, walnut-sized balls. Adding broth from the soup right into the matzah balls is my way of giving the illusion that the matzah balls have been cooked in the soup itself, but without clouding up the soup. You may skip that step, but it does provide just a little bit extra flavor.
For the chicken stock:
- 5 quarts of water
- 1 4-5 pound whole chicken, preferably organic
- 2-3 carrots, halved
- 2 ribs of celery
- 1 medium parsnip, halved
- 1 Vidalia onion, skin-on, quartered
- 1 small head of garlic, tips cut off to reveal cloves
- 1 bunch fresh herbs (such as dill, cilantro and/or parsley)
- a few sprigs of thyme or oregano
- 2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp turmeric, for color (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the caramelized cabbage:
- 1 1/2 cup green cabbage, chopped
- 3 Tbsp schmaltz (or vegetable oil)
- 1 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
For the matzah balls:
- 3/4 cup matzah meal
- 3 egg whites from large eggs, whisked until light and fluffy
- 3 egg yolks from large eggs
- 1 Tbsp grated sweet onion
- caramelized cabbage with schmaltz (or oil), cooled down
- 3 Tbsp broth from soup, cooled down
- 1 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, or parsley)
- ½ tsp salt
- chicken broth
- reserved chicken
- Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Balls (recipe below)
- 2-3 Tbsp freshly chopped dill
- salt and pepper, to taste
- To make the chicken stock: In a large pot, add the chicken, vegetables and a bouquet garni filled with the fresh herbs and peppercorn. Add a little bit of salt for starters, about 1 tsp. Add the turmeric, if using. Cover with water and turn up the heat. The second you see bubbles surfacing to the top, turn the heat down to maintain a slow simmer. Skim off any scum that surfaces.
- After about 90 minutes, transfer the chicken to a bowl and discard the vegetables and herbs. Strain the broth if necessary. When the chicken cools down a little, shred the breasts and save later for serving.
- Next, add in the sliced carrots and celery. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the cabbage: In a small pan under low heat, melt your schmaltz then add the chopped cabbage. Stir every 8-10 minutes (be careful to not interrupt the browning process by moving the cabbage around a lot) until the mix turns a deep brown, about 45 minutes. While you begin with 3 tbsp schmaltz, it reduces to about 1 ½ tbsp. Set aside.
- To make the matzah balls: In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks, grated onion, cabbage with schmaltz, broth, herbs and salt together. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and matzah meal until fully incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in 1 tsp of salt.
- With wet hands, form walnut-sized balls and drop them into the pot. Cover and boil for about 40 minutes.
- To serve: Ladle chicken soup into bowls. Top with reserved chicken, soup vegetables, matzah balls and fresh dill.