Tsukune "Matzah Ball" Soup
It's been a rainy and cold few days and three Passover Seders later, I'm happy to have something comforting to heat up that takes little effort. I made this Japanese "matzah ball" soup for the first time this year for our Seder meal. It's a soup that can be enjoyed any time of the year you're craving some good old chicken soup, though.
This recipe is an adaptation of one I saw on Tori Avey's website by La Fuji Mama. My version incorporates similar chicken tsukune meatballs, while the soup is my classic chicken stock to make it taste closer to a matzah ball soup.
When learning about reducing kitchen waste a few years ago, I read the book, Waste Free Kitchen Handbook. There is a suggestion to keep food scraps like chicken bones, onion ends, carrot, turnip, celery and other vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer. When the bag fills up, you simply toss everything into a big stock pot, fill it with water and simmer everything on low for a few hours. It makes the house smell heavenly, especially on a dreary winter days. When the stock cools, I pour it into jars and refrigerate them- throughout the week, I use it for risotto, drink it as is with a bit of salt or most often, I use it for a soup like this one. To me, there's something a bit luxurious about having a stash of your own homemade stock in the fridge. Here's a recipe for my Japanese take on matzah ball soup:
Total Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
Active Cooking Time: 1 hour
Tsukune (Chicken Meatball) Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken
1 tablespoon cooking sake
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons matzah meal
1 leek (about 1 cup), finely chopped and rinsed well
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 carrots, peeled and cut at about 1" diagonals
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
chicken broth, about 62 ounces (store-bought works in a pinch, but homemade is many times better!)
Place your chicken stock in a large pot and begin to heat it on the stove over medium heat. Sprinkle in salt until it's salted to your liking. Be careful not to over-salt- the meatballs have salt in them and remember you can always add more salt later.
When the stock comes to a boil, lower the heat to low and add the carrots and turnips. Cover the pot and set a timer for 30 minutes (you can move on to making the tsukune at this point). If the timer has beeped for the carrots and turnips while you are in the middle of forming the meatballs, check the carrots and turnips for done-ness. If they are perfectly cooked (still slightly firm but not mushy or crunchy), remove them from the broth with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the stock on low heat while you prepare the tsukune.
Prep and combine the first seven ingredients for tsukune into a large mixing bowl and mix until everything is well-incorporated. Using two small spoons (about 2" x 1"), scoop the mixture onto one spoon, then use the other to start forming a sort of egg-shaped meatball. Spoon the mixture onto each spoon, going back and forth until it looks smooth, then drop it into the stock. Continue this until all meatballs are in the pot. They will be ready when they start floating to the top- about 5 minutes.
When the meatballs are done, place the carrots and turnips back in, toss in the chopped dill, give it a good stir and serve immediately. I like to serve three meatballs per person.