Gail's Fully Loaded Mazto Ball Soup

From her cookbook "Bringing It Home."

Gail's Fully Loaded Mazto Ball Soup
Chicken & Stock:
1 4-5 lb whole chicken, thighs and breasts separated
4 Medium carrots, coarsely chopped
4 Medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 Medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
1 Garlic head, halved crosswise
8 Sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsely
1 tbsp Black peppercorns
Matzo Balls:
4 Larges eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Schmaltz, or clarified butter, melted
3 tbsp Club soda
1-2 tbsp Finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup Matzo meal
1/2 tsp Baking powder
Kosher salt, to taste
3 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
2 Medium carrots, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Medium parsnips, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Celery stalks, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup Fresh dill, finely chopped, plus more for serving
2 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
KBosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

For the chicken and stock:

Combine all the chicken and stock ingredients in a large stockpot. Add 3 1/2 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken breasts are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Transfer breasts to a plate. Let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Return the bones to the stock. Continue to simmer, skimming foam from the surface occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, shred the breast meat and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard the solids. Pick through and shred the dark meat, then refrigerate with the breast meat. You should have about 4 cups meat and 10 cups stock. (The stock and chicken can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.)

For the matzo balls:

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, schmaltz, and club soda. Stir in the matzo meal, baking powder, and 2 teaspoons salt. Remove half of the mixture to another bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill. Leave the other half plain for the kids. Refrigerate uncovered, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Bring a large Dutch oven or wide, heavy pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out the matzo ball mixture, one tablespoon at a time and using wet hands, gently roll into balls. Add the matzo balls to the boiling water, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer until the matzo balls are plump, cooked through, and begin to sink to the bottom of the pot, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat. The matzo balls can be kept in the pot of warm water, covered, until ready to serve. While the matzo balls are simmering, prepare the soup.

For the soup:

In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or wide, heavy pot with lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the celery, leek, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a generous pinch of two of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are softened, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add 8 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.

Add 2 cups shredded white and/or dark chicken meat to the soup and simmer to warm through, about 2 minutes. (Reserve the remaining chicken to use in salads, pastas, or other dishes.) Stir in the dill and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Using a slotted spoon, transfer a few matzo balls into each bowl. Top with more dill.

The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Bring a taste of Gail's home to yours with her fully loaded matzo ball soup recipe. It's one of her family favorites. With both homemade stock and matzo balls, this soup is a labor of love with a big payoff of flavor, warmth and comfort.