There are two tricks to my soup that I live by, and when I do I am pleased with the results. One, use a Kosher whole chicken (chopped whole is fine too). The flavor of a Kosher chicken is like no other. This is one of the few things I make that involves the word Kosher! Truly, it makes a difference in the flavor. If you cannot find one, go for a free range organic chicken. Second, only fill the liquid to just covering the whole chicken. The broth will be rich in taste. If you put too much liquid it dilutes the flavors.
And now a word about Matzo Balls. Like latkes (potato pancakes traditionally served at Hanukkah), the perfect Matzo Ball is always a topic of contention. People prefer them from the very petite in size to the humungous take over the bowl size. In addition, texturally some like them light and fluffy, while others like them firm. I like mine medium sized and fluffy, so that is how my recipe is, and I use the Matzo Ball Mix. If you have a Matzo Ball recipe you like, then by all means use it. To achieve a firmer matzo ball, I find making them from Matzo meal, and following the directions from the package to be successful. You can find Matzo Ball mix and Matzo Meal in the ethnic aisle of most major grocery stores. Most common brands are Streits or Manischewitz.
Finally, I never measure my vegetables. I always do it by eye. So I have included approximated measurements. If you are a seasoned cook, use what looks right to you. Also, I sometimes add barley to my soup. It makes it nice and hearty. You can omit the matzo balls even and use the barley instead. I make it all 3 ways depending on my mood. My soup is rustic and chunky. I hope you enjoy it and have fun playing with your own additions too. Try it this way first and then you can add other vegetables, herbs etc. to fit your personal tastes.
Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
Prepare matzo ball mixture first and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the soup.
Matzo Ball Mix (you will need 2 eggs and 2 T vegetable oil, as indicated on package)
1 Whole Kosher Chicken
2-3 32 oz Boxes Organic Chicken Broth
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 ribs of celery including leaves, chopped.
1 cup chopped carrots
1 TBSP chopped garlic (you can reduce or omit completely if you do not like garlic)
*Optional: 1 cup barley
*Optional: 2 parsnips, chopped
dry parsley leaves, to taste (start with 1 tsp. and you can add from there if you like more herb flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste towards the end of cooking.
Wash chicken in cold water, including inside cavity. Take out giblets if you do not like them in your soup. I use them in mine for flavor and then take them out. Place chicken in large stockpot. Fill with chicken broth to just cover the chicken and turn on heat to medium high. If you are using the chopped whole chicken you will still use 2-3 boxes of broth. Add all chopped vegetables, garlic, and optional barley. Bring to boil.
Take matzo ball mix out of refrigerator and roll into balls. I make mine just slightly smaller than a golf ball. They expand considerably while cooking. Drop into boiling soup. Let soup boil for 10 minutes then simmer for an hour.
Remove chicken from soup and place on board with a draining ditch. Take off and discard skin and giblets. Cut or pull meat off of chicken and return as much as you like to the soup. You can save some and make chicken salad if you like. I like a hearty rustic soup so I put all the meat back in the pot. Serve.
Note: You can skim additional fat off the top with a fat separating ladle while hot, or after the soup is refrigerated the fat will create a solid layer on top for easier removal.