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Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls Recipe : The Kräftig Version

This post and recipe originally appeared on The Evolved Foodie.

I’m reposting now because we could all use a little chicken soup to soothe our souls and nourish our tummies.

Chicken soup – it’s good for your soul!

A good portion of my recipes are vegetarian or vegan. This is not one of those recipes. This one is dedicated to the most beloved of Jewish recipes instead –  chicken soup.

Chicken soup is such a staple of the Jewish table and life cycle that it’s been called everything from Jewish Soul Food to Jewish Penicillin. It’s the centerpiece of most Shabbat dinners and makes an appearance on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Passover and pretty much every holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Some history:

In the 12th-century Spanish Jewish physician and scholar Maimonides AKA Rambam (the acronym for his full name Rabbi Moshe ben Maimun) wrote in his book On The Cause of Symptoms that chicken soup could cure everything from leprosy to asthma – and the common cold. And maybe just maybe it could help with a broken heart.

She’s Kräftig

While many people picture traditional chicken soup as being more of a clear broth, my family likes it with more body. In my family we use the German/Yiddish word kräftig, which means hearty, nourishing, healthy or powerful to describe my version of the classic. If you prefer a clear broth, feel free to skip the barley or to try placing the chicken parts in cheesecloth before cooking and then removing them to eat.

Thanks Mom!

It’s based on her recipe of course! I just added my favorite matzoh ball AKA kneidlach recipe as well.


  • 1 Large chicken cut into quarters or eighths
  • 4 large carrots
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1 celery root
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 cup of barley
  • 10 cups of water (or more)
  • 1 potato
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Several sprigs of parsley
  • Several sprigs of dill


  • 3/4 cup of matzoh meal
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2Tbsp. oil
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Optional: 2 Tbsp. seltzer
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • A pot of boiling water
  • Rinse the chicken extremely well. Then rinse it again to be on the safe side. Place into a large pot filled with water – a minimum of 10 cups, but feel free to add as much as you like. Since I use kosher chicken when cooking, I do not add salt to the recipe, since the process to make fowl or meat kosher involves a lot of salt. Feel free to add salt if you need it. Allow the water to get to a boil.
  • While the initial boiling process is happening, start peeling all the veggies. The celery root will be awkward to peel, so don’t worry if you don’t get it done perfectly.
  • Cut up the pepper into about 4 large pieces and cut the onion in half.
  • We love vegetables in my family but are extremely informal about it.
  • Use what you have in the house and feel free to add more and don’t worry about cutting up the carrots or parsnips, just cut them enough to fit in the pot.
  • While you’ve been cutting the veggies, the water should have come to a roiling boil.
  • You’ll also notice a foamy substance on the surface. Skim it off. Allow the water to boil again and if foam appears skim that off as well.
  • Make the fire smaller and then add all the veggies and parsley and the barley. Allow to cook for about 3-4 hours.
  • Add the dill about an hour before you’re done cooking the soup.
  • Beat the 2-3 eggs until they’re frothy. Add the oil, salt and then the matzoh meal.
  • Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste and place into the refrigerator for a minimum of 20 minutes- but an hour or two is even better.
  • If you prefer your matzoh balls to be fluffy, you can add some baking powder to the matzoh meal or dissolve a bit in water and then whisk into the eggs. Like ’em even fluffier? Add a few tablespoons of seltzer instead of water.
  • Place the other pot on the stove and cook until the water has boiled. Feel free to add a small amount of oil and salt to the water.
  • After the matzoh ball mixture has settled, remove from the fridge. I usually use a small amount of oil on my hands to keep things from sticking and then roll about 1″ size balls and then drop them into the water. You can use an ice cream scoop but bear in mind that these babies really do grow in size. Repeat until you’ve used up the mixture. You’ll notice that after a few minutes the matzoh balls will float to the top and at about 30-40 minutes cooking time they will be much larger and fluffier.

FYI: the dishes pictured are part of the Sepia Dinnerware set from the Martha Stewart collection available at Macy’s.