Matzah ball soup (also spelled “matza ball soup,” “matzoh ball soup,” “matzo ball soup,” among many other spellings) is traditionally served on the Jewish holiday of Passover. The matzah balls are made of matzah meal (unleavened bread) and are added to a chicken soup stock. Several citations for matzah balls in soup exist in the 1900s and matzah ball soup soon became a well-known staple of American Jewish cookery.
Wikipedia: Matzah ball
Matzah balls, also known as קניידלעך kneydlach (pl.) (kneydl, singular) in Yiddish, (also kneydls, matza balls, matzoh balls, or matzo balls) are a traditional Ashkenazi (East-European Jewish) dumpling made from matzah meal (ground matzo).
Some recipes may add a number of ingredients, such as stock and seasonings (for taste) or seltzer or baking powder (for fluffiness). Traditionally, the fat had been schmaltz (chicken fat), which imparts a distinctive flavor, but vegetable oils or margarine are usually used by the more modern, healthwise chef. Butter is not used as milk products are not allowed to be used in chicken (meat) soup in accordance with the rules of kashrut. There are even recipes for fat-free Matzah balls.
The balls are shaped by hand and dropped into a pot of salted, boiling water or chicken soup. Keeping one’s hands wet is vital when handling the sticky dough. The balls swell during the boiling time of approximately 20 minutes, and come out light or dense, depending on the precise recipe. Matzah balls are roughly spherical and can range anywhere from a couple of centimeters in diameter to the size of a large orange, depending on preference. They can be frozen and reheated in soup.
Matzah balls are usually served with chicken broth as matzah ball soup.
Another variation is called Matzah Kleis. They are made as follows: Break a whole matzah into little pieces, and soak it in water. After half an hour, drain off and squeeze out the surplus water. Add one to two dessert spoons of matzah-meal, salt and pepper to season, and then some fried onions, chopped (before frying) into very small pieces. Then add a tablespoon of olive oil and a whole egg. Knead well, until completely mixed, and put the mixture in the fridge for half an hour. Heat the chicken soup to almost boiling. Roll the matzah mixture into small balls (about an inch in diameter, as they will swell up) and drop them into the chicken soup, one by one. You can also add chopped parsley, if you like.
Matzah balls are particularly popular during Passover, when matzah meal is often used in observant Ashkenazi Jewish households as flour may not be used. (Those Ashkenazi Jews with the custom against gebrochts, however, would not eat them on Passover—see the gebrochts article for more.) They are also eaten at other times of year, especially on Shabbat, as a quintessential comfort food.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
matzo ball n. a small dumpling made of seasoned matzo meal bound together with egg and chicken fat, typically served in chicken soup.
1903 L. B. KANDER ‘Settlement’ Cook Bk. (1985) ix. 48 Cracker or *Matzo Balls… Moisten with a little soup, add parsley and salt. Roll into marbles and boil in the soup.
1917 A. CAHAN Rise of David Levinsky XI. ix. 395 The repast included ‘matzo balls’, wine, mead, and other accessories of a Passover meal.
1950 G. ACE Let. in Groucho Lett. (1967) 103 Would Lupowitz and Moskowitz serve black matzo balls?
1986 L. COLWIN Another Marvellous Thing (1987) 47 Billy wolfed down her pastrami sandwich and was watching Francis, a slow eater, slowly finish his matzoh ball soup.
Dinners and Diners:
Where and How to Dine in London
By Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis
A new enlarged and revised edition
London: Grant Richards
Before the soup was brought up, the master of the ceremonies explained that the Frimsell was made from stock, and a paste of eggs and flour rolled into tiny threads like vermicelli, while the Matsokelse had in it balls of unleavened flour.
The Steward’s Handbook and Guide to Party Catering
In Five Parts (Part 4)
By Jessup Whitehead
Chicago, IL; Jessup Whitehead & Co., Pubs.
Pg. 353 (Jewish Cookery):
PASSOVER SOUP—Beef soup with vegetables and motso balls, like quenelles, noques, or kibse. Made of 4 lbs. beef and a shin bone and calf’s foot, carrots, turnips, celery, fried onions, sweet herbs, pepper, salt, simmered (Pg. 354—ed.) 8 hours, strained, freed from fat. MOTSA BALLS—Cracker dust 8 oz., suet 2 oz., eggs 4, salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg. Worked up to a paste, made in balls, boiled in the soup.
Consolidated Library of Modern Cooking and Household Recipes
By Christine Terhune Herrick and Marion Harland, et al.
New York, NY: R. J. Rodmer Company
1905 (Copyright 1904)
Matzoth Soup Balls
Soak 3 matzoth in cold water, squeeze dry, and add 1 pint meal. Put 1 tablespoonful rendered suet in a frying-pan with 6 sliced onions, and cook till brown; then add the matzoth, 6 well-beaten eggs, 1/2 teaspoonful salt, and 1 saltspoonful each of mace, ginger, and pepper. Shape into balls, drop into hot oil, and cook slowly, so they will not break to pieces, for half an hour.
A Jewish Chaplain in France
By Rabbi Lee J. Levinger
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
1922 (1921 copyright)
The soup with matzah balls, the fish, in fact the entire menu made them think of home.
15 May 1934, Charleston (WV) Gazette, Louella O. Parsons column on Hollywood, pg. 10, col. 3:
Al Levy sending Ben Bernie matzos ball soup to the hospital every day;...
Road of Ages
By Robert Nathan
New York, NY: A. A. Knopf
“Do you remember my Olga?” asked Mrs. Blumenthal. “The one who made such good noodle soup, with matzoth balls?”
15 March 1935, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. 5, col. 4 ad:
Our Daily Regular Luncheon...35c
Choice of: Chopped Liver or Marinated Herring or Fruit Juices or Half Grape Fruit or Chicken and Noodle Soup or Matzo Ball Soup or Chicken Broth—Cheese Belintzes and Potato Latkes and Sauce Cream
(Juran’s Kosher Shoppe—ed.)
25 March 1937, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, pg. 24, col. 7:
Passover Dinner Menu
To each tablespoon of matzoth meal, use one egg. Beat two eggs separately, adding a dash of ground ginger, dash of cinnamon, dash of ground almond, dash of pepper, and a dash of salt, then stir in 2 tablespoons of matzoh meal and make into a paste with two teaspoons of chicken fat. Form into small balls and boil twenty minutes in chicken soup. Approximate yield: twelve balls.
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
3 September 1937, Jewish Criterion, “Happy New Year, Dear Adolf,” pg. 204, col. 2:
May you develop a permanent nostalgia for matzoth ball soup, and be compelled to eat it daily on the steps of the Brown House.
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
12 April 1940, Jewish Criterion, pg. 19, col. 3 ad:
Matzo Ball Soup
(Abrams & Friedman’s Restaurant’s Special Passover Menu—ed.)
Roget’s International Thesaurus:
The Complete Book of Synonyms and Antonyms in American and British Usage
By Christopher Orlando Sylvester Mawson, Robert L. Chapman, Peter Mark Roget
New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell
... gumbo, minestrone, mulligatawny, burgoo; matzo ball soup; fish soup, bouillabaisse [Fr], chowder, clam chowder.
8 February 1947, Mansfield (OH) News Journal, “Broadway” by Dorothy Kilgallen, pg. 11, col. 1:
Miss Midnight’s Diary—THURSDAY: To dinner at Lindy’s, where Broadwayites sit in attitudes of spineless contentment behind fabulous bowls of matzeh ball soup, giant dishes of garlic pickle, crocks of milky cole slaw, and strawberry shortcake in fantastic Technicolor squares.
H.L. Mencken: A Portrait from Memory
By Charles Angoff
New York, NY: T. Yoseloff
“And I do believe in stuffed derma, gefilte fish, sacramental wine, tsimes, and matzoh-ball soup. That, my boy, makes me at least as good a Jew as you are.”
The Underground Gourmet
By Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
[Beginning with 3d ed. (c1976) published under title: The New York underground gourmet.]
... list that includes mushroom and barley, cabbage, potato, Yankee bean and the superb matzoh ball soup (available only on Friday and an authors’ choice).
I love Matzo Ball Soup....