I'm back in NYC, just in time to catch the last few days of Passover. Happily yesterday, Mandy IM-ed with a last-minute invitation to Paree/NY-on-Columbus to partake in her first-ever attempt at matzoh ball soup (and a game of Catan). A lot was riding on this culinary adventure (mainly her marriage), and as the soup was excellent and all was peaceful when I headed home, I report a success!
She can correct me if I'm wrong, but for the stock she boiled a whole chicken (cut into large pieces) in water for a few hours, throwing in whatever she had in the fridge (which I think included celery, onion, and lemon?). She removed the chicken, skimmed it, and voilà--bouillon for the soup! (We used some of the chicken meat to top a satisfying salad of carrot, radicchio, red onion, Boston lettuce, and green grapes with Dijon vinaigrette.)
For the matzoh balls, she was advised by numerous Jewish elders to follow the directions on the box of matzoh meal (in her case, Streit's). But instead of oil or margarine, she used a half-part oil and a half-part chicken fat (a.k.a. schmaltz, one of my favorite Yiddish words), which she'd skimmed from the stock. The chicken fat definitely made a wonderful impact, so we agreed that next time, all schmaltz is the way to go!