Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yes, it's time for another soup!

Biggest pot I own, normally I use it for canning...
I enjoy making a good soup. Besides being delicious and what not, they are super for lunch at work the next day. Especially if you heat it up, have to run in and take care of a patient or two or three and then you come back, realize your soup is cold again, reheat it, and it amazingly still tastes great.

Not that I've ever had that happen to me at work. Not once.

Okay, it's happened a few times. Such is being a nurse and all.

While perusing recipes for Easter/Happy Birthday to me, I happened upon recipes for Passover as well, including a couple of recipes for Matzo ball soup. I love a good matzo ball, and it nothing to do with the fact my husband is nearly Jewish. No really, besides being born in New York (West Islip to be exact) and an accountant, his parents were Messianic Jews when he was born. They even kept kosher.
Anyway, back to the soup.

I was particularly intrigued by a recipe for a ginger and leek matzo ball with a lemon grass consommé. I heartily endorse all those ingredients together in one dish. Now, when it came down to making the consommé, I was lacking in lemon grass. Unfortunately, my local Asian market doesn't carry Matzo, so I skipped hitting the third store of the day for lemon grass and made due with extra lemon juice.

 Here is my lovely chicken consommé reducing down. I wasn't a stickler about straining it too throughly. I did a lot of skimming though, both of "impurities," (read: that yucky scummy stuff that will float to the top f soups at times, ew) and of fat. The fat I saved and used in the matzo balls, just as the original recipe called for. But in terms of straining the consommé, I didn't stress over that. At some point, i want to make a true consommé in the French style, but today was just not that day. Especially since I ruin the idea of the consommé by adding some greens and chicken back in at the end.

This was a really good soup though. My brother reported that the consommé "really tastes like chicken." for such a light, clear broth, it had a ton of taste. I think between the two chickens used and the reduction, it really concentrated good flavor in the broth. And the matzo balls were delicious. Light, full of flavor and gone as quickly and I made them. My husband and I were lucky to get two each to put in our soup the next day for lunch! So if you happen to have a lazy weekend day to make a pot of soup and some matzo balls, give the recipe a go!

Leek and Ginger Matzo Balls with Lemon Chicken Consommé

Adapted from Epicurious

2 3 3/4- to 4-pound chickens, quartered (I was lazy and didn't bother)
2 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved
1/2 large white onion
1 6- to 7-inch piece large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise
1 1-inch-long piece fresh ginger, peeled, halved
Zest of 2 lemons, peeled in larger sized portions
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice

Matzo balls:
4 large eggs
1/3 cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1/3 cup chicken fat (reserved from consommé or purchased), melted, cooled
2 tablespoons chicken broth or club soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup unsalted matzo meal

For consommé:
Place chicken in extra-large pot. Add next 6 ingredients, then enough cold water to cover (about 18 cups). Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer soup 2 hours, skimming impurities from surface. Let stand 30 minutes. Strain consommé into large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 8 cups, if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

For matzo balls:
Whisk 4 eggs in medium bowl. Mix in leek, chicken fat, broth, coarse salt, ginger, and pepper. Stir in matzo meal. Cover; chill at least 4 hours.
Using wet hands, shape generous 2 tablespoons matzo mixture into balls. Place on sheet of foil. Bring large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Drop in matzo balls; cover pot. Reduce heat to low; simmer until matzo balls are cooked through and float to the top. Using slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls in single layer to shallow dish.

Rewarm consommé. Add more lemon juice by teaspoonfuls, if desired. Add matzo balls; simmer to reheat, 5 to 10 minutes. If desired, add back in some of the chicken used to make the consommé and any vegetables desired. I used some mustard greens myself. Serve broth with matzo balls and any ingredients you choose to add.

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