The two ultimate comfort soups from both of my worlds have come together to hug the heck out of me.
Developing this recipe was nothing short of WOW. “Wow” was the only sound I heard on the holiday table during Rosh Hashanah when sazón-seasoned matzo balls were ladled into piping hot bowls of sancocho, a hearty soup (sometimes stew) of meat and veggies from the Caribbean. Following my mom’s recipe but needing to cut down on some of the root vegetables to make space for the matzo balls, I’d say this is close enough to hers, which always has had a combination of oxtails and chicken. You can always play around with the proteins and veggies, but if mom doesn’t see yucca, pumpkin, sweet plantain and corn – then Imma get an earful. She has also added, when available, chayote and white yautia roots.
Feel free to use your favorite matzo ball recipe (and hey, add in some sazón and cilantro while you’re at it).
If using sofrito, I have a recipe for it here: mom’s small batch sofrito.
Sancocho Matzo Ball Soup
for the soup
- 1.5-2 lb oxtails (or beef, short ribs) seasoned with salt
- 3 tbsp sofrito optional
- 1/2 of a whole chicken bone-in
- 1 head of garlic the top cut off to reveal cloves
- 1/2 of a small Spanish onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 sprigs of thyme optional
- 1 large bay leaf
- 12 cup water or beef broth
- 2 carrots sliced
- 1 cup squash or pumpkin cut into chunks
- 1 ear of corn cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large yucca cut into chunks
- 1 semi-sweet plantain sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large potato or yam cut into chunks
for the matzo balls (makes about 12 medium)
- 3/4 cup matzo meal
- 3 tbsp schmaltz or fat from oxtail
- 1/4 cup broth (from soup)
- 3 egg whites (from large eggs) beaten til frothy
- 3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
- 2 tspn sazón Organic, not Goya
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
for the sancocho
- Brown the oxtails for a few minutes on both sides. Add in the celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, sofrito if using. Continue to fry for about a minute then add in chicken, and water/broth. Bring to a light simmer, not to a boil.
- Skim often, then reserve 3 TBSP of the chicken and oxtail's oil that sits on top of the broth. Use this for the matzo meal if you do not have chicken schmaltz.
- After about an hour and half, discard the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Set the chicken aside. When cool enough to handle, shred for serving.
- Add in the yucca and carrots and cook for 30 minutes before adding in the rest of the vegetables. Simmer for about 15 minutes more.
for the matzo balls
- In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks, schmaltz, broth, herbs and seasonings together. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and matzo meal til fully incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
- With wet hands, gently form walnut-sized matzo balls and slip them into a pot of boiling water that was generously salted. Cover and boil for about 50 minutes. Serve in a bowl of sancocho.
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