Somewhere South with Chef Vivian Howard

Matzoh Ball Soup

This recipe is from Petra Kay, whose matzoh ball-making skills are well known in Jackson, Miss. She notes: the more carrots you add, the sweeter the soup.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 or more carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 whole fat chickens
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons schmaltz 
  • 2 tablespoons soup stock or water
  • ½ cup matzoh meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste


Step 1: Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until almost translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add celery, carrot and chickens (without neck, lungs, and gizzards). Fill pot with water to cover the chicken, until it slightly “swims.” Reduce heat to lower and simmer at least one hour.

Once done, place the pot in a sink full of ice water to cool down. (If you do not cool it down quickly you risk foodborne illness.) Once cool enough, place the pot in the fridge overnight. 

Step 2: The next day, the chicken schmaltz will have risen to the top and solidified. Scrape the schmaltz out of the pot and place it into a bowl. Set aside. 

Remove the chicken from the stock pot. (You can use the cooked chicken for something else!) Either leave the vegetables in the broth to use in the soup or take them out, depending upon your preference.

Step 3: Beat eggs slightly with a fork until a few fat bubbles appear on the surface. Add schmaltz, soup stock or water and salt, and gently mix. Gradually add in the matzo meal and stir lightly until thick. Refrigerate for 20 minutes in a covered bowl.

Meanwhile, bring the broth to a slow, soft boil over medium-low heat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. 

Step 4: Wet hands and rub a bit of schmaltz between your fingers. Form dough into balls. Drop them directly into the chicken broth and cook for 30 minutes. Once the balls are “dancing” or rolling around in the broth, they are ready.

Yield: about 6 servings