Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls and Israeli Couscous

Food Therapy's Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls and Israeli Couscous
Sunday was my day to be lazy.  Well, not exactly lazy as much as I had made a vow to myself to stay in my lounge pants, a sweatshirt, and slipper socks all day and refuse to go anywhere.  This included grocery shopping.  It isn't an easy thing for me to do.  With three kids, having a day free of errands and transportation duty does not come often.  Yes, I could have gotten my weekly shopping over with and not had to bother with it during the week, but it was going to be a "me" day.  


As it turned out, my "me" day became a daughter, me, and one sad looking science project kind of day.  I didn't get to sit on the couch and read my book or watch The Godfather for the 50th time with my husband (thankful for that one!), but I did get to watch an absolutely disgusting episode of Bar Rescue that was frightful enough to scare me away from bars of every kind for quite a while. Not that I'm a frequent visitor to bars or anything like that, but, egads!, this show will scare you away from even wishing you had the opportunity to hang out at one.  So, with one science project down, two baskets of laundry folded, and nagging and fussing at the troops in between, I took a look in my fridge to see what I could put together.


Chopped Roasted Chicken
At the end of last week, I had roasted a chicken.  We never seem to be able to finish an entire chicken before everyone grows tired of it.  With the weekend, we abandoned all leftovers and went out to eat.  By the way, have you ever had french fries made with duck fat? Oh, my! I never thought I could describe fries as both decadent and rich. They were soooo, mouth-watering good.  Back to the chicken...so, we had a some chicken sitting in the fridge and it needed to be eaten. I took a look in the vegetable drawer and...Score!...I had carrots, celery, and an onion.  I even had some fresh dill (don't ask me how I happened to have that on hand) and some lemons to flavor the broth. It's already looking good! Throw in some Matzo balls and Israeli couscous and now we're talking.
Sauteed celery, onions, and carrots


The soup is light but very tasty.  I love to add lemon to my broth because it seems to brighten the flavor of the vegetables.  In this case, the addition of the dill totally complemented the lemony flavor of the broth.  Typically, I add regular spaghetti noodles, but when I saw the Israeli couscous in my pantry I thought it would be a nice change of pace. And, it was.  They are like tiny pearls of pasta that give a nice chew to every spoonful of soup. 
Israeli couscous


As for the matzo balls, they are just a simple Manischewitz mix.  Sorry, I didn't make them from scratch.  My friend, Lynn, saves me some from her Passover meals every year, and my son, Aidan, goes crazy for them every time.  When I asked her to save me some this past year, she said, "You know you can just get the mix at the store and make them. That's all I do." So, that's just what I did and now my son thinks I'm brilliant. I'll let him continue thinking I did something special until he figures out my secret shortcut.
Good ole' Manischewitz---please excuse my shadow in the picture


If you are not making your own broth (I did not), be sure to buy and keep in stock for your pantry a nice quality organic chicken broth.  It really makes all of the difference.  My preference is Pacific broths.  For chicken broth, I always buy the cage-free organic.  It's nice and thick rather than the thin, watery broths that you'll find with other brands. Not naming any names...

For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click the link: https://sites.google.com/site/chickensoupwithmatzoballs/

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Oven-Roasted or Rotisserie Chicken, cooked and chopped
1 Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 Celery stalks, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Water
2 lemons
1 envelope Matzo Ball Mix
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 cup Israeli Couscous
1 Tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped


Directions:
1.  In a Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped onion, sliced carrots, and sliced celery. Sprinkle your salt over the mixture and saute until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.


2.  Add the juice of two lemons, the chicken broth, and water to the pot and let the mixture come to a boil over medium heat.  When it begins to bubble, add the cooked chicken, Israeli couscous, chopped parsley, chopped dill, and one bay leaf. If you are using Matzo balls, now is the time to add them.  Turn the temperature down to allow the soup to simmer and continue to simmer for twenty minutes.
Soup after the Matzo balls and herbs have been added


For the Matzo Balls:
Using a mix for matzo balls is super easy.  Empty one envelope of the mix into a small bowl.  Add 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil.  Stir the mixture until it is combined.  Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

In your hands, take about 1 teaspoon of your matzo mixture and roll into a pretty ball.  Drop each ball into your soup and allow them to cook for at least 20 minutes.  They are fun to watch puff up and roll around in their hot tub of broth.




Food Therapy's Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup