Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup

I must be the only Jewish girl that has never made matzo ball soup before. I remember all the woman in my family make this traditional soup all through my childhood but alas I never succumbed to the task.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

I’ve heard Passover being referred to as “The Jewish Thanksgiving” because really, the food is pretty awesome. I always..always make my mom’s Bimuelos and there’s always a pot roast roasting in the oven. Boxes of matzo fill our cabinets and I even venture into the forbidden. Gefilte fish, that is. I grew up on the cold jarred fish in fishy gelatinous gunk, but I kinda like it. Actually I saw a recipe for homemade gefilte which looked pretty amazing so I may dive right in.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

So for this recipe, I thought I would combine both my Sephardic and Ashkenazi sides together. If you’re not familiar with what that means, it basically means  that my background is Jewish, but from different parts of the world. My mom’s side is Sephardic where her side is from Turkey and ancestors from Spain. Sephardic cuisine has a lot of Mediterranean flavors, such as lemons, olives, saffron, etc. On the other hand, my fathers side is Ashkenazi which means that my Jewish family on his side comes from Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Austria, Russia, etc. Ashkenazi Jewish food is probably more commonly recognized, such as matzo ball soup, brisket, latkes, etc. This food is more ‘stick to your ribs” hence the cold winters in Eastern Europe.

I’ve mentioned in my little bio page, I am blessed to have both sides in my family, so I have enjoyed everything from my mom’s famous stuffed grape leaves to my grandpa’s matzo brei (on dad’s side).

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

I wanted to “brighten up” the traditional flavors of matzo ball chicken soup a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I’ll take a bowl of matzo ball soup any day, gut lemon is one of my favorite flavors and I still have Persian dried lemon leftover that I thought would be amazing with it!  I also added a touch of saffron to the matzo ball mixture, which I think I need to grind up a bit more next time. The flavors of the dried lemon simmering in the pot was just beautiful. I also added lemon zest in the mixture which is also one of my favorite ingredients to use.

Method:

1) Begin by making your chicken stock. I slightly cheated and used both water and boxed stock. In a large pot, add water and stock, 4 whole carrots, 1 onion, 1 garlic bulb, 2 stalks of celery, chicken, 4 dried lemons and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium until chicken is cooked through, about an 1-1/2 hours.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

2) As the soup cooks, check it every so often and use a ladle to skim the fat from the top. It will be white and look frothy. You may also need to add more liquid if you see it reducing.

3) While soup is cooking, make your matzo balls. In a bowl add matzo meal, eggs, sparkling water, grapeseed oil, cayenne, saffron, turmeric, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and place in fridge  to set for about 20 minutes.

4) When matzo mixture is ready, it will not be as “lose” as when you first mixed, but will be a little firmer. With wet hands, roll the matzo balls lightly between your palms, about the size of a golf ball. Place them on a plate until ready. You should have about 14.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

5) When chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, chop or shred the chicken, discarding bones and skin. Set aside.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

6) Next, strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and discard aromatics. (*Note: I left the dried lemon in because I just love the flavor). Return soup base to your pot. Taste for seasoning.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

7) Next, bring your soup back to a simmer. Add your chopped carrots, celery and matzo balls. The soup should be at a constant simmer but not overly-boiling. Cover pot and cook matzo balls for 35 minutes. When ready, they should be floating.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

8) When soup is ready, turn off and back your chicken, add chopped parsley, dill and sliced lemon.

9) Ladle soup in bowls with matzo balls and chicken and then pour in soup. Add additional lemon slices.

Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup

1 hour, 30 minutes

35 minutes

2 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: 7-8 servings

Serving Size: 2 matzo balls + soup

Ingredients

    Chicken Soup
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 2, 32oz box of chicken stock, low sodium
  • 4 whole carrots + 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut in half
  • 2 whole stalks of celery + 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 Chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 4 dried Persian lemons
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Matzo Balls
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tb grapeseed oil (or any light flavored oil you have)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of saffron, ground up
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Small handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garnish
  • Chopped dill
  • Chopped parsley
  • Lemon slices

Instructions

  1. Begin by making your chicken stock. I slightly cheated and used both water and boxed stock. In a large pot, add water and stock, 4 whole carrots, 1 onion, 1 garlic bulb, 2 stalks of celery, chicken, 4 dried lemons and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium until chicken is cooked through, about an 1-1/2 hours.
  2. As the soup cooks, check it every so often and use a ladle to skim the fat from the top. It will be white and look frothy. You may also need to add more liquid if you see it reducing.
  3. While soup is cooking, make your matzo balls. In a bowl add matzo meal, eggs, sparkling water, grapeseed oil, cayenne, saffron, turmeric, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and place in fridge to set for about 20 minutes.
  4. When matzo mixture is ready, it will not be as "lose" as when you first mixed, but will be a little firmer. With wet hands, roll the matzo balls lightly between your palms, about the size of a golf ball. Place them on a plate until ready. You should have about 14.
  5. When chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, chop or shred the chicken, discarding bones and skin. Set aside.
  6. Next, strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and discard aromatics. (*Note: I left the dried lemon in because I just love the flavor). Return soup base to your pot. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Next, bring your soup back to a simmer. Add your chopped carrots, celery and matzo balls. The soup should be at a constant simmer but not overly-boiling. Cover pot and cook matzo balls for 35 minutes. When ready, they should be floating.
  8. When soup is ready, turn off and back your chicken, add chopped parsley, dill and sliced lemon.
  9. Ladle soup in bowls with matzo balls and chicken and then pour in soup. Add additional lemon slices.
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Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

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  1. […] Matzo Ball Soup is one of those traditional comfort foods.  I have been eating it since I was a little girl.  My grandmother would make it for all the Jewish holidays and then when she died, my mom would take over.  This classic soup, known as Jewish penicillin, a soup that is believed to cure every ailment that there is….LOL!! Now that I am all grown up, I have been making it as well. You can find my Classic Matzo Ball soup, here!  I have made the traditional type of my mom and grandmother and also a Sephardic type as my dad’s family originally came from Spain. The basic Sephardic type of the soup, can be found here!  This new type of matzo ball soup that I found on a fellow blogger’s site, caught my eye!  Samantha from Little Ferraro Kitchen (also a Sephardic type) makes a Lemon Saffron Matzo Ball Soup that when I saw it, I said, “I have to make this!!”  The flavor combinations of this soup truly intrigued me!! I grew up eating mostly the Ashkenazi Jewish foods (Eastern European, European) as we were basically only close to my mom’s family and that is where they came from.  I hardly knew anything about my father’s side, so when I saw this soup, from Little Ferraro’s Kitchen, I knew this was going to be the soup on my Passover table this year! You can see the original version of this soup over here! […]

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