This Yemenite matzo ball soup recipe was created by Shaya chef de cuisine Zach Engel (a nominee for the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year and named to Forbes 30 Under 30). Says chef/owner Alon Shaya of this innovative preparation, “We were inspired to make matzo ball soup with duck because we were buying lots of local, Louisiana ducks for the restaurant. We use the bones to make the broth, which adds a richer flavor.
Pro tip: to have the fluffiest matzo balls possible, place the rolled matzo ball dough directly into simmering broth immediately after rolling it.”
- 4-5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
- 1 gallon plus 3 quarts water, divided
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 whole sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 2 star anise pods
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 3 teasppons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/3 cups matzo meal
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 pound heirloom carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 2 bunches scallions, 1/8-inch thick slices
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large onion, cut into eighths
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- Zest from 1/2 orange
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 head fennel, cut into wedges
For the short ribs
The day before you plan to execute this recipe, season the raw short ribs with kosher salt (3 tablespoons) and place in a non reactive dish, uncovered in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat canola oil on medium heat. Sear short ribs on all sides, allowing the meat to develop a dark golden crust. Place seared short ribs in a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, carrots, fennel and 1 tsp of salt to the cast iron skillet used to brown the short ribs. Cook until vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes
Add the tangier spice, allspice, fennel seeds and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Place the cooked vegetables into the casserole dish with short ribs. Next, add the orange zest and water. Make sure to cover the short ribs with liquid by at least 1/2.
Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and foil, and cook at 325 F for 2 1/2 hours. When finished, allow the short ribs to cool in the braising liquid until the dish has reached room temperature. Remove the short ribs and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Set the strained liquid aside. It can be added to the chicken soup for more flavor and more broth.
Cut the short ribs into ½-inch pieces to put into the soup.
For the soup
In a large stockpot, combine the pieces of chicken and 1 gallon water over high heat. Once the water is simmering, reduce the heat to medium and skim away any foam. Continue to simmer, skimming frequently, for about 10 minutes, until you’ve removed as much of the foam as you can.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and all of the spices. Cook for about 1 1⁄2 hours, with the water gently simmering, until the chicken feet have softened but are not falling apart and all the aromas in the broth are coming together. Strain the chicken stock and allow it to cool.
To make the second stock, add all the solids to a separate wide pot or Dutch oven and cover them with 3 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, until it’s fragrant and tastes well-seasoned.
While the second stock simmers, make the matzo balls: In a large bowl, combine the matzo meal, onion powder, garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons salt. Separately, beat the oil and eggs together, then add them to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined, with no dry pockets of matzo meal. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Strain the second stock (discard the solids) and store it for later use or return it to the same wide pot. Bring it up to a simmer over medium heat.
Roll the chilled matzo ball dough in tablespoon-sized balls and, as soon as you shape them, drop them into the second stock; they should float in a single layer with a bit of room between each (they will expand as they cook). Leaving the heat on medium, partially cover the pot to cook for about 1 hour. The matzo balls are done when they’re the same color throughout; cut one open and it should have the same texture as pound cake. Cover and remove the pot from the heat while you assemble the soup.
Put the first chicken stock back in your large pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sliced carrots and cook for 5 minutes until just tender.
Reduce the heat to low and add the short ribs.
To serve, place a couple of matzo balls at the bottom of each bowl, then ladle the soup over it. Finish with some of the sliced scallions.