Jewish chicken soup

Jewish chicken soup

  • serves 4-6
  • Easy

Steaming, golden chicken soup with matzo balls is a fixture at most Jewish Sabbath meals. This recipe comes from Victoria Prever, the food editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper


Try our Jewish chicken soup recipe, then check out our Ethiopian-style chicken, roast chicken recipes and more chicken recipes

Victoria Prever, food editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, says, ‘Most European and American Jews grew up on chicken soup and it’s a go-to when you’re feeling under the weather or need a taste of home. The soup is packed with vitamins and minerals, so no surprise that it’s known as Jewish penicillin. Every Jewish mother has her own recipe which she (and her children and grandchildren) think is the best. Matzo balls (aka kneidlach) are matzo meal dumplings traditionally served in chicken soup. Everyone likes theirs differently – some heavy and others light and airy. Mine transport me straight back to my grandma’s dining table.’



  • chicken 1.4-1.6kg, plus any extra chicken carcasses and bones if you have them
  • onions 2 medium
  • celery 3 sticks, halved
  • carrots 3 large, peeled and halved
  • parsnip 1, peeled and halved
  • flat-leaf parsley a handful, chopped, the stalks reserved for the soup and the leaves to serve
  • black peppercorns 10
  • bay leaf 1


  • eggs 4
  • schmaltz (chicken fat skimmed from the soup) or vegetable oil 2 tbsp
  • chicken soup 60ml
  • medium matzo meal 120g, (see cook's notes)
  • chicken soup powder mix 1 tbsp, (see cook's notes)


  • Step 1

    The day before you want to serve the soup, put the whole chicken and any extra bones in your largest lidded pan.

  • Step 2

    Halve the onions through the roots (leaving the skins on – they will add colour) and add to the pan with the remaining ingredients plus 2 tsp of salt. Add enough cold water to cover.

  • Step 3

    Bring the soup to a boil over a high heat, skimming off (and discarding) any foam with a big metal spoon. As soon as the water boils, turn the heat down to a very low simmer. Partially cover the pan and leave to cook gently for 1 hour 30 minutes, until the meat is falling off the bones.

  • Step 4

    Remove the chicken from the pot but continue to simmer the broth. Strip the meat from the bones, tearing some of the chicken into pieces to serve in the soup – save the rest to use in salads, sandwiches or pies.

  • Step 5

    Return the bones and cartilage to the pot and simmer gently for a further 1 hour-1 hour 30 minutes. Strain the soup into a large container or pan, discarding the vegetables and bones. Leave to cool completely then refrigerate overnight.

  • Step 6

    By morning, the fat will have risen to the surface – skim it off and refrigerate it. It can be used for fabulous roast potatoes and to make the matzo balls.

  • Step 7

    To make the matzo balls, use electric beaters to whisk the eggs with ½ tsp of salt and a few grinds of pepper until thick and creamy. Beat in the schmaltz – the mixture should now be light and foamy.

  • Step 8

    Mix the 60ml of chicken soup and matzo meal, and fold into the egg mixture – it will be very sloppy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to hydrate the matzo meal and firm it up enough to be easy to handle.

  • Step 9

    Scoop tennis-table-ball-sized amounts from the mixture and, with moistened hands, gently roll into balls. Put them on a plate.

  • Step 10

    Fill a large, shallow pan with water and add the chicken soup powder. Bring the water to a boil and gently lower in the matzo balls. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes – they will puff up nicely.

  • Step 11

    In the meantime, check the soup for seasoning – it may need more salt – add some of the reserved chicken to the pot, and heat it up.

  • Step 12

    When the matzo balls are ready, carefully remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and place two or three in each bowl. Add the hot chicken and soup. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley leaves.

Cook's notes

You can find matzo meal and chicken soup powder mix online and in the kosher section of large supermarkets.

Victoria Prever is the food editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper and a freelance food writer, cookery teacher and food consultant. Follow her on Instagram @victoriaprever.

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Jewish chicken soup

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 328
  • Fat 13.6g
  • Saturates 3.7g
  • Carbs 26.2g
  • Sugars 5.4g
  • Fibre 1.6g
  • Protein 24.2g
  • Salt 3.4g