In Susan Brenna’s family, Thanksgiving belonged to her grandmother Palma Gambino, who started the celebration each year with chicken soup.
The Dining section’s Melissa Clark helped Brenna and husband, David Firestone, pick out the most promising notes in the family cookbooks and developed recipe combinations that pulled the meal together.
For the soup, she suggested we add fresh horseradish to the matzo balls, a perfect nod to David’s grandfather, who liked to carve bits tableside from a huge, gnarly root. So festive.
Horseradish matzo ball soup
Time: 2½ hours
1 (4½- to 5-pound) chicken
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled
2 medium parsnips, peeled
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
1 small bunch parsley, chopped leaves reserved for garnish
1 small bunch dill, chopped leaves reserved for garnish
4 thyme branches
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a large pot, combine chicken, onions, celery, 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, parsley stems (reserve leaves), dill stems (reserve leaves), thyme branches, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves. Add enough water to cover everything by 1 inch.
2. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 2 hours. Skim foam and fat frequently with a slotted spoon.
3. While the stock simmers, prepare the matzo ball mixture. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, oil, ¼ cup reserved broth, matzo meal, horseradish, allspice, ground pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
4. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (you should have about 2½ quarts) and set aside to cool. Reserve chicken for another purpose; discard vegetables. Broth can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated.
5. Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a boil. Using water-moistened hands, roll the matzo ball mixture into 1½-inch balls. Use a slotted spoon to lower into the boiling water; reduce heat and simmer matzo balls until very tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Put reserved chicken broth in a pot, bring to a simmer, and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Thinly slice the remaining carrot and parsnip. Add the vegetables to the broth and cook until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Spoon a few matzo balls into the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle hot broth and vegetables on top. Garnish with parsley and dill.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings