Nothing takes me back to my childhood like the aroma of chicken soup simmering on the stove. For holidays, special sabbath meals, when I had a cold, or just whenever the mood struck, my mother and my grandmother made chicken soup. There were always matzoh balls in the soup. Some families only had these special dumplings for Passover, but in my family, chicken soup with matzoh balls and noodles was a year-round thing, and I looked forward to those bowls of goodness every single time.
Those of us who grew up on matzoh balls, also known as kneidlach or kneidles, always have a story about their size and consistency. A lot of us had to endure an aunt’s hard, dense matzoh balls – we called those sinkers. Then there were the ones that were so fluffy they fell apart and disintegrated in the soup. Needless to say, the cooking technique for perfect matzoh balls is tricky.
In my family, we call fluffy matzoh balls floaters. My kids love them. So, when Wendy and I opened Max & Louie’s New York diner, we put chicken soup with matzoh balls and noodles on the menu – served just like you’d have it if you were a guest at our home. It was a smart move because regardless of the season -summer, winter, spring, or fall – our matzoh ball soup is a favorite with guests at Max & Louie’s.
Our cooks start with real chicken to make our broth the traditional way, then hand-slice carrots, onions, celery, and herbs, and simmer them in that rich broth to allow the flavors to marry. We make the matzoh balls the old-fashioned way too, combining the perfect amounts of matzoh meal, eggs, and a bit of oil, then simmering our matzoh balls in salted water to a fluffy consistency.
Here’s my tip on how to avoid turning your matzoh balls into sinkers: Cook them first in salted water – never cook them in the soup stock. Once they’re fluffy, you put them in the soup to absorb more of the soup flavor. Why? The fat in the soup makes raw dough harden, and cooking them in a simple brine first cooks them before they begin to absorb the flavors of the broth.
We load every bowl of soup with our handmade matzoh balls, along with generous portions of egg noodles, fresh veggies, and chicken from the stock.
In addition to serving matzoh ball soup all day, every day, we also serve a rotating list of other made-from-scratch soups here at Max and Louie’s. That means, unlike that soup guy in the famous Seinfeld episode, there is always soup for you at Max and Louie’s!
One of our classic soups is grandma’s vegetarian split pea soup – made from my Bubbe Ray’s recipe. We also serve a rich cream of mushroom, classic Minestrone, a comforting tomato bisque, and a hearty mushroom barley. Like chowder? Our New England Clam Chowder is legendary.
Yes, all of our soups are made from scratch, and never come from a box or can. In fact, the only way you can find a more authentic handmade soup is if you make it yourself at home. I guarantee you won’t find soups with this much soul anywhere else in town.
Everything we serve here at Max & Louie’s New York Diner has a backstory and a special place in our heart. I hope you’ll come in soon and try something new, something nostalgic, or something steeped in tradition.
And while you’re here, ask for me and let me know what you thought of this blog and the episode of Max & Louie’s TV below. I’ll see you soon.