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    Whenever I Want Something Comforting, I Make My Family's Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

    Even if you don't celebrate the Jewish holidays, this soup is a must-try.

    Religion means lots of different things to different people. As a Jewish American, one of my favorite things about religion is the cultural aspect — in particular, the recipes — that connect me to my ancestors.

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    As an adult, I hardly ever go to temple, but for the major Jewish holidays my whole family gets together and we eat the recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

    My mother's matzo ball soup is one dish that is literally always on our holiday table. But this recipe it so much more than a holiday dish. It has become my ultimate comfort food. After all, they don't call it Jewish penicillin for nothing.

    A bowl of matzo ball soup with egg noodles, vegetables, and chicken.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Whether it's freezing outside, I've had a bad day, I feel myself coming down with a cold, or I just want something cozy, I'm convinced my mom's matzo ball soup can fix pretty much anything.

    While matzo ball soup is traditionally an Ashkenazi Jewish food, just about anyone can enjoy it. My husband Zack (not Jewish) has become fully hooked on this comfort food.

    My husband, Zack, eating at a Jewish deli.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Like most family recipes, my mom's matzo ball soup has been passed down both by hastily-written recipe and word-of-mouth. It's gained an almost mythical status in my family. It comes together in one pot, and you can make a huge batch and enjoy it for days. Here's how you make it.

    A big pot of matzo ball soup.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Ingredients:

    Ingredients for matzo ball soup in a Dutch oven.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    •1 small whole chicken or chicken parts

    •1 box matzo ball & soup mix (such as Manischewitz or Streits)

    •1 bunch carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

    •1 bunch celery stalks, roughly chopped

    •1 yellow onion, quartered with the skin on

    •2 parsnips, roughly chopped

    • Fresh dill and parsley

    • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns

    • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)

    • Egg noodles or your favorite pasta (optional)

    You'll start by rinsing and patting dry a whole chicken or chicken parts. Trader Joe's sells small heirloom chickens (about two pounds) that I love using for this recipe. Place the chicken in a stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the soup seasoning packet from the matzo ball soup mix.

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    Add the chopped veggies, peeled garlic, onion, and the fresh herbs to the pot. Bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (1-2 hours). By this point the vegetables will be cooked through.

    When the chicken is almost cooked through, it's time to form the matzo balls. You could make matzo balls from scratch using matzo meal, eggs, chicken fat, etc... (and I'm sure this family recipe originally called for the homemade version) but the packaged mix is easy and the final matzo balls taste amazing, so my mom's recipe sticks to that.

    A big pot of chicken matzo ball soup.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Combine the matzo ball mix with eggs and vegetable oil, then place the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes so it firms up. Bring the soup back to a boil and form the mixture into little balls (how big or small you like them is entirely up to you). Toss the balls into the pot of soup, cover, and let cook for 20 more minutes until the matzo balls are fluffy and float to the top.

    Matzo ball soup with veggies and chicken in a Dutch oven.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Once cooked, remove the chicken and shred it, discarding the bones and adding the meat back to the pot.

    If you want to serve the soup with noodles, you can add them right to the boiling water or prepare them beforehand. Ladle the soup into bowls, making sure that everyone gets a matzo ball, tender veggies, chicken, noodles, and plenty of broth.

    Matzo ball soup in a bowl.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    It's as simple as that! It requires one pot and very little hands-on cooking. And the final result IMO: the most comforting, heart-and-soul-warming soup in the world.

    A bowl of matzo ball soup.
    Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

    Do you have a family recipe that has become your ultimate comfort food? Tell me about it in the comments below.