Bubbie Ida's Matzo Ball Soup For Passover

By Laurie Isola (OPB)
Portland, Oregon April 20, 2016 7:28 p.m.

The week-long Jewish holiday of Passover begins Friday at sundown, and with it comes the Seder, a special dinner during which the story of the Exodus — the Israelites' departure from ancient Egypt — is told, symbolic food is eaten, and friends and family celebrate over a feast.


Every table's spread will look different, but one dish is almost certain to be served: matzo ball soup.

Portland resident Laurie Fendel helps us celebrate the start of Passover with her Bubbie Ida's recipe for Chicken Soup With "Knaidlach" (Matzo Balls). Rich and nourishing, this comfort food is delicious any time of the year.

Watch the video to see how to mix, form and cook the knaidlach; read below for the full recipe for chicken soup.

Laurie Fendel shares her Bubbie Ida's recipe for chicken soup with knaidlach (matzo balls).

Laurie Fendel shares her Bubbie Ida's recipe for chicken soup with knaidlach (matzo balls).

John Rosman / OPB

Chicken Soup With Passover Knaidlach (Matzo Balls)


4 servings

Laurie Fendel's grandmother Bubbie Ida would make this soup in a two-by-two kitchen with a folding table for a work space. Knaidlach, or matzo balls, is from the German word "knödel," which means dumpling.


Chicken Soup
1 (5-6-pound) fresh chicken*
2-3 carrots sliced at a diagonal
1 large onion cut into quarters
2-3 celery stalks, leaves and all, chopped into large chunks
1 peeled yam
1 medium turnip
1 leek (white part only)
Salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries
3-4 sprigs of parsley
10 cups water

*You can add more wings and necks for more flavor.

  1. Rinse the chicken and put it into a large pot with 10 cups of water. Let it come to a boil and skim off the scum.
  2. Add celery, yam, turnip, leek, bay leaves, allspice berries, salt and pepper. Simmer covered for 2-2 1/2 hours. (At this point, if you are going to use the chicken for another dish, remove the chicken from the pot, and return the bones to the soup. Cook for another hour.)
  3. Cool the soup on the stove, and then strain the soup. Return the carrots to the soup.
  4. Refrigerate overnight and skim off the fat.
  5. When you heat up the soup, add chopped up parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Knaidlach (Matzo Balls)
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs beaten lightly
2 tablespoons chicken soup
2 tablespoons chicken fat* or oil
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups water

* This can be skimmed from the soup.

  1. In a bowl, combine the oil, eggs, chicken soup and salt. Beat in the matzo meal. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. While the mixture is chilling, boil water in a pot.
  3. To create the matzo balls, wet your hands (it helps to have a separate bowl of water at the ready so you can easily wet your hands throughout the rolling process), take a 1-teaspoon scoop of the mixture and roll in your hands. Place the ball into the boiling water. When all the balls are in the water, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Do not uncover during this length of time.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the knaidlach and put into bowls of warm chicken soup.