Making Matzo Ball Chicken Noodle Soup is a project best divided over two weekends. On the first weekend, make the chicken stock. Yes, yes, yes: You can buy stock. But why would you when making your own is easy and tastes better. If you don't make your own stock for this soup, don't tell me. I don't want to know. And if you are using canned stock, I really don't want to know.
Why not just humor me and make some chicken stock. The recipe for the remainder of the soup follows the directions for stock.
Adapted from Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food
1 1/2 gallon water
1 whole chicken, 3.5 - 4 lbs.
Place the chicken and water into a stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Skim off any foam.
Add to the pot:
1 peeled carrot.
1 onion, peeled, cut in half, with the cut sides blacked under the broiler.
1 head garlic cut in half, the loose paper removed but the head still holding together by the last layer of paper.
1 celery stalk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper corn
Sprig of parsley, sprig of thyme, 1 large bay leaf.
Simmer everything together for 4 - 5 hours. Carefully strain. Here is how I strain so that a hot mess of stock doesn't explode in the kitchen: First, line a colander with cheese cloth and place the colander over a bowl large enough to hold all of the finished stock. Using tongs, a slotted spoon or other kitchen tools, move the chicken from the pot to the colander to drain. Scoop out as much of the vegetables as you can and let that also drain in the colander. After the chicken and veg has finished draining, wrap it all up using the cheese cloth and remove from colander. Now, carefully pour the remainder of the stock through the colander and into the large bowl. Cover the bowl and put into the refrigerator over night.
The next day, carefully skim off any fat that accumulated on the top of the cold stock. Divide the stock into quart containers and freeze.
Matzo Ball Noodle Soup
Step I. Defrost 3 quarts of your homemade chicken stock and put it into a large stock / soup pot.
Step II. While the broth is defrosting, poach a chicken breast. When it is cool enough to touch, shred the meat and set aside. Peel one carrot and slice it finely. Set aside.
Step III. Make the matzo balls. You'll need:
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. seltzer / club soda.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Whisk in the vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in the matzo meal. Stir in the 2 tbs. seltzer / club soda. Cover, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Bring 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, plus one teaspoon salt, to boil in a medium pot. Reduce the heat to simmer. Form the matzo balls: Spritz you hands with cooking spray. Scoop a tablespoon of batter from the bowl and roll it into a ball between your palms. Drop the balls into the hot water. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Think of this process as akin to poaching an egg: The water should be hot, simmering, but not boiling. You don't want the matzo ball to fall apart.
Heat the stock. Check the seasoning. I've added up to 2-1/2 tsp. of salt to the stock in small increments, checking the taste after each addition.
Fifteen minutes before the matzo balls are finished, add the chicken and carrot to the stock. About five minutes before the matzo balls are finished, add 6 ounces of fine egg noodles to the simmering stock. Do not cook the noodles more than 8 minutes.
Ladle soup, chicken and noodles into a bowl, and then add two matzo balls.