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Matzo ball soup fueled Hollywood's Golden Age -- at the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer commissary, they served matzo ball soup every single day. According to Jewish Cooking in America, the recipe for the soup came from Louis B. Meyer's mother and the balls were cooked until crisp under a broiler and served in dark brown broth, which proves two things: The Jews controlled Hollywood, and you can seriously screw up matzo ball soup if you let the wrong people run the kitchen.

The history of matzo ball soup goes back farther than just Hollywood, however -- it stretches back through the European enclaves that Jews populated all the way to the Middle East. For where there is Passover, there is matzo, a dry, cracker-like, bread replacement that we are forced to eat. And where there is matzo, there have been people trying desperately to make it more edible. In this case, they grind it up, add eggs and make kneidlach (dumplings).

On a very basic level, matzo ball soup is merely chicken stock, oil, eggs and broken up matzo. It's not at all impossible to make, especially if you follow this extremely simple recipe, which is neither the best on Earth, nor the most authentic. (To compensate for this lack of authenticity, Yiddish words and phrases will be used when possible.) But what it lacks in uniqueness, it makes up for in consistency. The recipe is so easy and fool proof even goyim (non-Jews) can make matzo ball soup that would make bubbe (grandma) proud.

Okay, we're hungry. Genug shane! (Enough already!)



The Ingredients

  • Two boxes of Matzo Ball & Soup mix.*
  • Two-thirds of a cup of oil.
  • Four eggs.
  • Six carrots.
  • One celery heart.
  • Two small onions.
  • Five quarts of water.

* -- There are some traditionalists out there who will kvetch (bitch) and nudge (moan) that using a pre-packaged mix from a company like Goodman's or Manischewitz is too expensive -- and even worse, that it's cheating. To these mavins (know-it-alls) and to you goyim out there, please take note of the following two points.

Point #1: Because demand for Matzo Ball & Soup Mix peaks during the Passover season, a single box of this stuff -- which is essentially Yellow #5, fake chicken stock and a fistful of ground up matzo -- costs a whopping $4 at the local market. (Special Tip for New Yorkers: Unless you're in a "good neighborhood," this item is going to be $7 at the local bodega and can be found between the cat litter and the drain opener in that section of overlooked foods perpetually covered in 1/8" of dust.) But after Passover, the market for soup mix virtually disappears, they all go on sale and you can buy them for next year. By doing so, you can keep three Jewish traditions alive: Making matzo ball soup, never paying retail and buying in bulk.

Point #2: Fifty years ago, before the advent of prepackaged goods, modern manufacturing processes and next-day shipping, people made all their Passover goodies by hand. Today, we're lucky enough to *not* have to slave away for weeks and yet some people cling to grandma's old recipe for matzo ball soup, insisting that using matzo meal is meichel for the beichel (a gift for the stomach) and the mix is simply overpriced drek (crap). Well, here's a news flash. The drek that's in the box is the same drek that grandma carefully measured out five decades ago, only the people at Goodman's have done it already. And you only spent 54 cents to avoid some mishegas (craziness).




Step One: Stir the Eggs, Goniff.

Like Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, during Passover Jews can't eat anything bought or processed, process anything bought or eaten, or buy anything eaten or processed. We can't do that for eight whole days. It's enough to make you say "oy gevalt!" ("Lord help me!") especially when you're backed up like I-95 outside Boston during

the Big Dig because of all that dry wall, er, matzo. Luckily, Jews *can* eat eggs, which is why the cholesterol count of the Jewish world rises in lockstep with the national debt over Passover. 1. Take the four eggs, 2. and stir them. STIR them! Some recipes -- and some grandmothers -- will insist that the only way to make fluffy matzo balls is to whip egg whites. Good for those recipes. Great for those grandmothers. Do what *this* recipe says. Don't be a goniff (shithead) or your soup will come out cockamehmeh (poorly). 3. Measure out 2/3rds a cup of oil, 4. pour it into the gently stirred eggs, and 5. STIR again. 6. Nice job, boobeleh (sweetheart)! Nisht gefehrlach, nu? (Not so bad, eh?)




Step #2: Jesus Was a Fisherman, Jesus Had a Microfridge.

Now that your egg mixture is ready, 1. it's time to dump in that envelope of powered drek, which we've already established is pre-measured matzo meal and nothing else. 2. Once again, resist that urge to employ the electric mixer and stir the matzo meal into the egg'n'oil liquid. 3. When it's completely stirred, the matzo ball mix will look an awful lot like concrete. And if you had used an electric mixer, it *would* actually be concrete. It's not so well known, but most of Jerusalem's Old City was made from matzo ball mix that didn't come out so good. It's a true fact. 4. To avoid making concrete -- to ensure that your matzo balls are boombeh (huge) and not shtickels (little pieces) floating in broth -- you need to put your mix in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. For centuries, Jews have been placing their matzo ball mix in the refrigerator -- this is our deep, dark secret that ensures the matzo balls come out fluffy and perfect. In fact, like parents visiting a son at college, the three wise men presented Jesus with the


first microfridge, along with all that frankincense, myrrh and a jumbo pack of ramen noodles from Costco. It's a true fact.




Step #3: Chop! Chop!

When it comes to chopping veggies, a schlemiel (idiot) would spend days building a massive contraption to do it for him. A schmegehgeh (bigger idiot) would fail the first time, but spend another week adding an electric motor. And a schlemazel (biggest idiot) would do the first two things and end up cutting off his hands in the process.

It doesn't matter which of these you are, but if you need detailed instructions on how to chop vegetables, then this joke, a favorite of Jewish families everywhere -- although you goyim better not say it! -- is for you.

Q: What do JAPs usually make for dinner?

A: Reservations!


Thank you! Thank you! We'll be here all week! Tip your waitress! Try the veal!




Step #4: Feh! Use the Mix, No Need to Ungehpotchkey.

Real chicken stock is delicious. It's rich, it's greasy, it tastes *exactly* like chicken. But sadly, in the modern world, few of us have time to ungehpotchkey (fool around), roasting whole chickens and boiling bones and making gallons of lovely chicken stock. If you *do* have the chutzpah (nerve) to make your own stock, please

make the rest of us look bad and toss out that envelope of powdered soup mix. Meanwhile, the rest of us will 1. turn the stove to high, 2. measure out five quarts of water, which is 20 cups, for those of you with the play at home version of our game, and 3. pour it in the largest pot in the house. 4. As the water comes to a boil, stir in the powdered chicken soup mix, 5. add the celery, onion and 6. carrot. Look directly at the people standing around the kitchen and complain: "Veh is mir!" ("I am pain itself!") so they feel guilt *and* shame for not helping out more often.


Step #5: Bigger is NOT Better.

Ever since the Germans began coming to the U.S. en masse, giving us the word "delicatessen," New York's deli community has been engaged in a not-so-subtle competition to see who can serve the world's largest matzo ball and accidentally kill a customer. While some of these offerings may be edible, or even tasty, don't try to

make a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade-sized matzo ball. Instead, 1. take the bowl of matzo ball mix from the refrigerator. 2. Using heaping teaspoons, roll the cold mix into ping pong shaped balls. Going larger than this will fail on two counts. One, you'll need to serve your soup in a swimming pool. And two, the oil and egg will congeal in the middle, making your matzo balls so tough, you'll need a chainsaw to cut 'em. Don't be a schmuck (asshole). 3. Don't make a gonsa megilla (big deal) out of this -- the minute the ping pong shaped balls hit the boiling water, they will expand rapidly. 4. Put the lid on the pot. 5. Turn down the temp to low. Cook for 30 minutes. The matzo ball soup is done, but it came with a price. Now you feel oysgamitched (exhausted), there's pain in your pulkeys (thighs) and tuchas (butt) and you could be on the verge of a killeh (hernia).


Down the Gorgul! In the Boich!

With all of this nareishkeit (foolishness) behind us, it's time to nosh (eat) and stick that soup down your gorgul (throat) so it can warm your boich (belly). The carrots are soft, the celery is translucent and the matzo balls are fluffy and perfect. Right about now, your friend the schnorer (freeloader), the one who always shows up empty-handed and drinks all your beer, will show up and want a bowl. Luckily, you've made enough matzo ball soup to feed two dozen people. Sit, kibbitz (gossip) and enjoy your soup.

Hey momser (jerk)! Hurry up! You're letting it get cold.


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