A delicious chicken soup that I have learned is not a traditional Hanukkah food!
Hanukkah started yesterday. Us gentiles don’t fully understand the significance of this holiday, but I’m going to try to explain what I’ve learned. It is NOT a Jewish Christmas. It celebrates the re-dedication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian oppression. When the altar was rebuilt and cleansed, the seven armed menorah (the arms representing knowledge and creation) was lit and supposed to burn every night. The miracle that made Hanukkah an eight-day event was the miracle of the oil. There was only enough oil to burn the candles for one night, but they lasted for eight!
The celebration has so many traditions and one of them is food! The menorah that is lit during Hanukkah (the hanukiah) has nine arms, one for each day of the celebration and the 9th candle (the shamash) that is used to light the other eight candles.
Hanukkah is about the oil – fried foods like Latkes (recipe here) and jelly donuts (sufganiot), Other foods of the holiday include brisket and chocolate gelt coins (to mention just a few).
And all this brings me to the soup. Matzo is not traditional soup for Hanukkah. It’s a Passover food. If you want to make this soup for Hanukkah, add lokshen (a Jewish noodle) instead of matzo balls.
But – I’m a gentile and I clearly got confused!
Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish Friends!
What you need:
- 3 to 3 ½ pound whole chicken
- 4 carrots cut in chunks
- 2 celery stalks sliced thick
- 1 large onion cut into large pieces
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (for soup)
- 2 to 2 ½ quarts of water
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3/4 cup of matzo meal
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tablespoon salt (for balls)
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/8 cup broth (from the soup)
How to Do it:
Put the first seven ingredients into a large kettle. Add 1 Tablespoon of the parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 – 45 minutes.
Once the chicken is tender and comes easily apart, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer the rest of the broth.
Once the chicken is cool enough to work with, pull all the meat off the bones and put it back in the pot. Discard the bones. Taking the chicken out like this avoids getting bits of bone and cartilage in the soup.
Continue to simmer, covered, for 2 – 3 hours, adding a little more water if needed.
While the broth is simmering, make the matzo balls. Mix the remaining parsley, salt, matzo meal, nutmeg and eggs together in a bowl. Slowly add the broth and mix well. The mixture will be loose and sticky. Refrigerate at least one hour (or longer).
When the soup is done, take out the matzo mixture and form into balls. We like them a little larger and make two per bowl. You can also make them smaller if you want.
Turn the soup to medium heat and drop the matzo balls into the broth. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The longer you cook them, the fluffier they become.
Turn off heat and serve hot! Delicious – and the most honest and healthy, quintessential chicken soup there is!
Makes 4-6 servings
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