Chicken Soup, South Of The Border | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Chicken Soup, South Of The Border

A Tex-Mex Pesach with Matzah Ball Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Chicken Soup, South Of The Border

The author’s Austin-inspired matzah ball soup with pasilla chiles. Amy Kritzer

Serves 6

45 min

1 hr 30 min

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This is the next installment in our series “The Remix,” in which we seek to gently rework the more challenging dishes in the Jewish culinary canon. With a little bit of love, we’re convinced we can make any dish delicious, even ones that seem a bit bizarre to the modern palate.

Matzah ball soup is one of those Jewish foods that do not even need remixing. Dare I say it’s perfect as is? There is not much better than homemade stock, light matzah dumplings with a slight bite (my preference), and lots of dill. But that certainly doesn’t stop me from trying to improve upon perfection. 

When I first moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, I was not too homesick, but I missed my beloved bagel, egg and cheese breakfasts and pastrami on rye for lunch. Sigh. But then I discovered new loves. Queso, the addicting cheesy dip responsible for a 10-pound weight gain, and tortilla soup, the healthier spicy tomato soup, topped with creamy avocado and crispy fried tortilla strips. If matzah ball soup is Jewish penicillin, then chicken tortilla soup must be the Mexican version. 

So you may notice this tortilla soup is missing the tortillas. Minor detail — the rich tomato broth gives you all the Tex-Mex flavor you need. Feel free to pile on the tortilla strips post-Pesach, but with lots of avocado, jalapeno and cilantro, I didn’t even miss them. Note: make sure your spices are kosher for Passover.

Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, Texas. She blogs at What Jew Wanna Eat. Her first cookbook, “Sweet Noshings,” comes out August. 

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For matzah balls:

3 large eggs

3 tbsp. olive oil or schmaltz

3 tbsp. sparkling water

3/4 cup matzah meal

2 tbsp. grated onion, dried well

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

For soup:

1 large dried pasilla chile, stemmed

2 tbsp. olive oil or schmaltz

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)

2 jalapeños, diced (leave the seeds and veins out for less spice), plus more for garnish

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika (or paprika)

1 tbsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste

5 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)

29 ounces diced tomatoes with liquid

1 cup cooked shredded chicken

For garnish:

Cilantro leaves, minced


Diced avocado

  1. First, make the matzah ball mix. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, olive oil or schmaltz, and sparkling water. Then stir in matzah meal, onion, baking powder salt, pepper, cumin and cilantro. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the mix is not as sticky.
  2. Meanwhile, start your soup. Put the chile in a small heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let the chile soak until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove chile and reserve soaking liquid.
  3. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil or schmaltz over medium heat. Add in onion with ¼ teaspoon salt and sauté for 5 minutes, or until softened. Then add in jalapeño and garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add in cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper and remaining salt and sauté while stirring for 1 more minute.
  4. Transfer to a blender with 2 cups broth, half of the tomatoes, the pasilla chile and ½ cup soaking liquid. Blend. You can also use an immersion blender and blend right in the pot.
  5. Place mixture back in the pot and add in remaining broth and tomatoes.
  6. Matzah ball time! Form matzah ball mix into about 15 1-inch balls. Bring soup to a simmer and place balls in the stock. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until balls float and are cooked through. You can also cook the matzah balls separately in water or chicken broth.
  7. Then add chicken and cook a few more minutes uncovered until chicken is warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with cilantro, lime, avocado and jalapeño slices.
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
  • Chicken Soup, South Of The Border
    Chicken Soup, South Of The Border

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