Even though Passover is a month away, it’s never too early to start thinking about matzo ball soup. The perfect antidote to cold and flu season, this star of Passover Seder is nicknamed ‘Penicillin’ because of its soothing qualities. But when you make the matzo balls from scratch, they can often end up dense rather than light and fluffy. Fortunately, there’s an easy tweak that will keep them pillowy soft: Just add seltzer water.
This fizzy beverage has become super popular over the last few years with many flavored versions helping people break their soda-drinking habits. You can use an unflavored version while making matzo balls because the carbonation from the seltzer acts as a leavening agent.
This is especially helpful for anyone looking to use baking powder in their recipe since there are questions about whether it’s Kosher. But in the words of food and lifestyle blogger Tori Avey, “The choice to use baking powder is a matter of tradition and preference.” Luckily, swapping in seltzer will also make matzo balls tender enough to cut with a spoon and enjoy with the rest of your soup.
Plus, seltzer water is cheap and easy to pick up at most stores. A variety like Polar Sparkling Water (Buy at Walmart, $10.08) contains zero calories and 40 mg of sodium in each can, which means that it’s a perfectly healthy addition to your matzo ball batter!
For the best results, keep the water refrigerated until you’re ready to use to preserve the fizziness.
How to Make Matzo Balls
Chef Sarah Carey of Everyday Food suggests that adding 1/4 cup of plain seltzer water is the perfect amount to make matzo balls fluffier. She also does a neat trick of separating the eggs and beating the whites in a clean bowl until they have stiff peaks, then folds that in with the yolk, matzo meal, seltzer, and some chicken fat. This creates an extra airy texture within the batter to prevent them becoming dense while they’re cooking.
Cover and refrigerate the batter for 20 minutes so that it can firm up slightly, then roll into 1 1/2 inch sized balls. Keep a tiny bowl of water nearby to wet your hands each time you form a new ball. This prevents the mixture from sticking to your fingers. Then put the balls into a pot of lightly salted boiling water (which you can reduce to a simmer once they’re all in there), cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes.
To test if they’re done, take one out of the pot to see if it’s puffed up and tender when you cut into it. You can watch Everyday Food’s video below for more tips on getting the lightest and fluffiest matzo balls:
If you want to prep ahead of time, NYT Cooking says you can refrigerate your matzo ball batter for about 3 hours or overnight before shaping them. Then, form them into the 1 1/2 inch sized balls and cook them as you normally would in a pot of simmering lightly salted water for about 30 minutes, until they’re soft.
Once all of the matzo balls are cooked, place about two or three of them in a bowl. Pour over warm chicken broth and carrots, and finish off the soup with a sprinkle chopped fresh dill.
This seltzer water trick can be added to your family’s recipe or a more keto-friendly version. Either way, you can enjoy delicious and fluffy matzo balls during your upcoming Passover Seder or whenever the mood for this delicious soup strikes!