My Kids Hate Matzo Ball Soup

Fall is crisp, this kitchen is warm, and our space within both- is tight.

My girls and I maneuver around each other. Arms and legs, fingers and elbows, tops and bottoms. Our dance is not yet perfected.

Soup boils and I breathe it in -chicken and broth, carrots and celery, dill and freshly cracked pepper- they are part of my story.

What I make by heart, and am humbled to know that generations of Jewish women make in the same way, I am about to share with my young daughters.

I made matzo ball soup in my Safta‘s kitchen.

Open windows inhaled bright Jerusalem air and exhaled my Grandmother’s recipes.

Her round frame and full personality filled the galley kitchen from cold white tile to low beamed ceiling.

My Saba stood by her side.

His knobby fingers finely shredding, mincing, and dicing a whole chicken, vegetables from the shuk, and spices still muddied at the roots.

The matted greens from parsley and dill passed from his fingers onto hers and only then into the soup.

I’d dice carrots at the small plastic table behind them- trying to mirror their technique, staying within the shadows of their duet.

Years later, I made matzo ball soup in my Ima‘s kitchen.

We each had our own space there. In front of us, endless tile countertops glistened in California sunshine. And below us, perfectly placed wooden floors warmed golden.

We chopped and added and measured and poured our ingredients.

Manischewitz mix, drumstick packages, and vegetables and herbs from the supermarket.

Celery, carrots and anise, dill, parsley and salt filled my splayed fingers. I smelled each one with my eyes closed.

My daughters hate matzo ball soup.

I make it when I feel cold or sad or lonesome or in dire need of cozy.

My recipe is an equal blend of my Safta‘s and my Ima‘s. Fresh ingredients pulled at their roots mixed with the convenience of where we live, and who we are.

They wrinkle their tiny noses as the smell warms our home and plants my feet into the places where other women dice and chop and measure and pour and end up with the same result in their bowl.

Sometimes, it’s just what I need.

My girls, however, swoon for chicken noodle soup. It is their version of familiar and comforting and cozy.

This doesn’t bother me in the least.

Because together we measure and mix, wait for the ingredients to set, and roll matzoh balls. Our fingers are sticky, matching.

We maneuver and laugh and talk and throw, knowing that I’ll be the only one filling my bowl.

This is our routine.

And as we memorize our steps, the scent of broth and the sound of boiling water and the feel of dill between their fingers will become ingrained within the beatings of their hearts.

They’ll know this part of my story. And in this way, it will be their’s too.

Chloe’s heart-shaped matzo ball. Love.

Matzo Ball Soup

1 box Manischewitz mix– follow matzo ball directions exactly- not a minute less or more in the refrigerator

1 package chicken drumsticks– cooked in broth, then shredded

Fresh carrots, celery, dill, parsley– chopped bite size, and cooked in broth to eat

Fennel– left whole to boil in broth, removed not served to eat

Cracked pepper– to taste

This post is close to my heart, and I’m linking it to two sites

that I’m so very proud to be a part of-

Write On Edge

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

And World Moms Blog for their Blogiversary Link Up!

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  1. At least the girls enjoying making the soup with you even if they don’t enjoy eating it.

  2. Beautiful post my friend, and one that rings true for me. My kids are finally eating my matza ball soup (one enthusiastically, one very begrudgingly) but neither are at all interested in the process, the making, of forging one more link in the chain from generation to generation, and that is the part that saddens me.

    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  3. I just love the way you brought us into those wonderful kitchens from your memories!

  4. Great post! I love matzo ball soup! Even though they don’t enjoy eating it, they enjoy making it with you and that is something they will take all the way into adulthood. The memories of making the soup with mom and hopefully something they will pass on to their own kids.

  5. An absolutely delightful account of passing recipes on through the generations. You are so right to do this and your children will remember.

    This: ‘the scent of broth and the sound of boiling water and the feel of dill between their fingers will become ingrained within the beatings of their hearts.’ was just perfect – the whole essence of transmission of culture through cuisine.

  6. I adore your descriptiveness–you add so many layers! I also love that your story wasn’t really about a food recipe, but a recipe for family and comfort. Awesome job!

  7. Beautiful Galit! I love the way that you liken cooking — with your grandparents and with your daughters — to a dance. Allowing space for individuality and room to maneover. You celebrate the differences and enjoy the similarity. Wonderful piece :)

  8. They may not like it YET! Matzo balls can be an acquired taste. Just keep your girls with with you. Keep making them together. Keep asking them to try the broth. Ask them to taste one tiny bite. I read somewhere that kids have to try something about twenty times before they move from “yuck” to “I like it!”

    I love how you always embrace old traditions but you are also willing to bend and accept that your girls may not want to do things the way you did them. Can to teach me to be as flexible?

  9. WOW! Your heart was very clear and your “story-telling” amazing. There was just so much love. It is good that we write these things down, so we don’t forgot, so our children will know, so our histories will be remembered. Beautiful.

  10. Oh lady, I can’t stand it. This is so beautiful.

  11. My best friend, and college roommate, used to make matzo ball soup for comfort too. I think smells, and food, are such powerful memory triggers/reminders. Your soup making memories, with all the smells, are wonderful.

    Also, thanks for visiting my blog yesterday. My daughter had fun being The Mad Hatter. But she came home early. Her shoes hurt. C’est la vie!

  12. Stunning. Love this!


  13. Oh – they will remember this, too, just as you have the memories of your Safta and Ima. :-) And I bet they will someday also like the Matzo. Personally, I LOVE good matzo ball soup, and I’m wishing I had a transporter that could take me to your place for leftovers right now! Instead I’ll have to make do with our family’s comfort foods. :-) I’ll survive!

  14. You have such a way with your words, they draw me into your kitchen and your grandmother’s kitchen. love this!

  15. Beautiful. I wish I had more memories passed down like this. Our kidlets love to help their dad make soup from scratch on chilly Saturday mornings, especially our girl. She loves to sweat the garlic and has really gotten into the whole process! Hopefully, we’re instilling traditions they may remember in their years to come….just like you are with matzo ball soup! :>

  16. I love this. And I will be very surprised if they don’t grow to love it, too, because it will be so linked with YOU in their memory banks :)

  17. Your words so vividly described all the memories, the emotions that you experienced cooking the matzo ball soup. I could almost smell the ingredients from where I was reading it; that’s how amazing your description was. And on top of it all, I could feel the comfort, the attachment, the sense of belonging, and the pride you felt with your heritage and family.

    Wonderful, soothing post. Your writing has that effect on me :) And I think despite their dislike now, they would grow to love it. I remember not liking many things that later on I just can’t get enough of :)

  18. So beautiful! Reading this made me tear up. And it inspires me to get in the kitchen with my daughters. Thank you.

  19. So lovely. The memories, the traditions and the carrying-on of it all…

    It reminds me of making strudels with my grandmother and now my parents and kids. :)

  20. This is so beautiful! I love matzo ball soup and love the fact that my MiL is passing down her recipes to this little shiksa so that I can pass it down to my little-half Jews. We make sure that our children know the importance of both religions in our family and the stories behind them.

    I would be honored to share some matzo ball soup with you! At least the girls enjoy making the soup with you. They will definitely appreciate this tradition when they are older with their own children.

  21. This is beautiful.

    Also? I need to learn to cook.


  22. beuatiful, as always. i hope your girls come around to enjoying it though, cuz it’s goooood stuff- and boy could i go for a steaming bowl right about now! ;D

  23. We can hope that someday they grow into it! That would be a shame to lose. My hsuband went straight to his grandmother, who was born Italian/Albanian in the old country, and got her most important recipes. They are a staple of our household.

  24. “They’ll know this part of my story. And in this way, it will be their’s too.” It is not just a soup. It is your heritage, your family and your comfort.

  25. Family and Food; two essential memories mixed together, linking past and present with love and comfort. No one can write this better than you. I don’t usually visit the RemembeRed posts, but today I’m glad I did.


  26. I love how a recipe can carry the comfortable weight of the years, the knowledge of the generations before and the tweaks and additions of the generations to come. Lovely.

  27. You brought that recipe to life! I am craving soup and the want of baking with my girls at the same time. I

  28. It’s so great to share those memories, even if you’re the only one eating it.

  29. I was there with you, inhaling the air, and exhaling her recipes. Your children will love matzo ball soup in adulthood. that’s a promise.

  30. Lovely…I love all the Hebrew you mixed in…Saba, Safta, Ima. I never used those words, but growing up in my temple I heard them often and they bring back such fond memories. Plus, I love Matzo ball soup-yum. haha

  31. Love Love LOVE this. I deeply believe that the surest way to pass on our heritage is through food. The family stories, the cultural traditions and matters of faith can be centered around what we eat, when and why.

    I want to be in your kitchen, learning how to make matzo balls. Those ones in the jar? Not tempted to try. Same for the jars of gefilte! (spelling?)

    My family legacy might be different, but some of the lessons are the same–passed down through generations of floured hands.

  32. Beautifully written! And what wonderful memories. I want some of your soup now

  33. Very nice post! Although it’s hard t imagine anyone not liking matzo ball soup!

  34. I, too, have a child who loves to help me make the foods which comfort me, foods he won’t eat. You put your finger on that balance between teaching them and letting them have their own comfort and ritual.


    Can I come over for matzo ball soup?

  35. You absolutely rocked this topic.
    I could picture myself right there with all of you…I could almost smell it…is that weird?

  36. BalancingMama (Julie) says:

    Food ties so closely to history, doesn’t it? This was lovely, as usual.

  37. It’s so hard when our children reject things close to our heart. But beautiful that they share the cooking experience. Maybe it will be like collard greens in my culture–something they come to love when they are older.

  38. lovely, romantic, and moving.

  39. I absolute chicken noodle soup whether it’s creamy or regular and anytime of the year. Matzo ball soup… I’ve never tried but would like to if someone made it for me.

  40. I bet they will grow to love that soup, since it will be linked to so many fond memories of you. xo

  41. We’re not Jewish, but my Mom used to make a mean matzo ball soup. I used to pick out the matzo balls and ignore the broth. I found you via the RemembeRed linkup, and now I’m wondering if I can convince my husband that he’ll enjoy this. Unlikely, but a worthy cause.

  42. It’s so awesome that they help you even though they don’t want to eat the soup. How fun! I remember helping my Gram make springerle, the most disgusting cookie ever. But she and my Mom liked them and it was fun to help. Food memories are so special.

  43. It’s so nice that your daughters join you in this tradition even though they’re not crazy about the soup. These will be such special memories for them that they will tell their daughters about.

  44. Fairly certain we are soulmates. Love matzoh ball soup, but sadly never got the chance to see what my children thought. I adore your post, wrinkled up noses and alll. Take best care, my friend!

  45. What a lovely post – now I want to go and remove mine, because yours contains the essense of culture and motherhood. Oh well.

    I love that World Moms is doing this link up and at this stage I need to confide that I’ve never eaten matzo ball soup

  46. I love, love, love that you have this tradition with your girls. That you have recipes that have been in your family for generations and that your wrote this post. It brightened my day!

  47. No matter that they hate to eat it. Seems to me that, on one level, they love it. The tradition and togetherness of it.

    I, myself, am not Jewish, but have always been a devout fan of matzo ball soup. Do you share your recipes? *hopeful smile*

  48. I love this post, as I have a similar story to share with chicken noodle soup (with homemade noodles). Growing up with such sweet memories, and then getting to pass them on to our children- well, there’s no better gift. This post should be printed out and framed for your kids!!

  49. there are so many things I didn’t like when I was a kid and my parents made them. now, being a mom I long for it and keep asking my parents to give me the recipe for this or that.
    In addition, I totally understand you in the sentence where “you will be the only one filling your bowl”. so many times I cook two separate dinners. One Polish for me, and one American for my husband. My kid eats a little bit of both :)

  50. I love how food and tradition can inform a life, a season with love. Wonderful.

  51. This is lovely and wonderful, Galit. It will definitely be a part of their story. And I love the way it’s translating…for you – Matzo Ball soup, for them – chicken noodle, and who knows what it will be for their daughters, as they cook with Grandma Galit in her kitchen. :-)

    Sweet stuff!

  52. I love the images of you making the soup. In Jerusalem and then in California. I could smell it. I remember my father bringing that matzo mix home and using just chicken broth. I liked it. I believe I’d like yours too.

  53. Doesn’t it always seem to go that way? Still, you are making memories for your girls.

  54. Oh, this is beautiful.

    So evocative, so emotional, and filled with smells and textures that envelope the reader.

    They may not like it but some day, if they marry a boy who does, your girls will know how to make a fine Matzo Ball Soup.

  55. Nicole DeZarn says:

    I have mentioned how much I love this, right:)

  56. Aww, its all about creating the memories right?

  57. That gave me chills because I know they really will have those same warm feelings about it. Oh, how I love the way you write from the heart and soul.

  58. The wonderful thing, to me, is that you’re o.k. that they don’t share your love for something that’s such an integral part of your childhood. That you are making your own shared story with them.

  59. Evocative and rich and comforting. The soup is just like your writing.

  60. I attended a Jewish High School in Johannesburg. Many of my friends still had their Grandmothers living with them, and it filled us with delight to cook side by side creating Friday night Sabbath – a favorite!
    (and to this day… I swear at my husband in Yiddish!)

    Beautiful memory!

  61. Beautiful post! I have made Matzo ball soup twice. I really love the flavor and texture. I do not have the generations of memories behind the soup, but I do love hearing your memories and your traditions.

    Maybe Matzo ball soup is an acquired taste that the girls will grow into? Even if it is not, the cooking memories will be there. They will be cherished.

  62. LOVE matzo ball soup! But even more so how you write about it. Like it is a friend almost. Beautiful.

  63. This soup sounds amazing! I love your use of small paragraphs, to me it almost reads like a recipe. It is step by step, moment by moment, memory by memory. I like that a lot.

    I am so glad that there are other mums out there who are taking the time to cook with their children and share the stories and the passion of the traditional foods from other countries! Let these recipes live on forever!

    Great post – as always.

  64. I think the actual making of the soup is the memory being made. JDaniel doesn’t like what we cook together at times too.

  65. I make a vegetable soup that’s been handed down from generation to generation, too. It’s my grandmother’s “recipe” – although there’s no real recipe. As my mom once told me when I asked her for it, “You just throw a bunch of stuff into a pot and cook it ’till it turns soup-like!” So, that’s what I do.

    Sadly, I have no memory of ever making it with my grandmother. But I remember making it with my mom growing up – we’d always make it on snow days, along with chocolate chip cookies. So, that’s what I do now, as an adult, whenever I need to feel cozy and warm and safe and “home” during the colder months when my depression lurks in the shadows. I make soup. (And cookies.)

    And one day I’ll pass this practice along to my little girl. And that brings me comfort, too.

  66. I love this! You write so beautifully,

    I’ve never tried matzo ball soup!

  67. Maman Aya :-) says:

    What a wonderful story Galit! Lucky for me, my kids actually like my matzo ball soup, and my son (the baby is still too young) loves to help making the matzo balls. I don’t have the amazing memories of helping my own grandmother the way you do (although I do have the same kind of memory of the small cramped Israeli kitchen), I am glad that my children will be able to cherish their safta memories the way you do. You are truly blessed to have your memories and to be able to create such beautiful moments and memories for your children! Enjoy every moment!

  68. The time spent together and honoring family is what they’ll remember most. For what it’s worth, to me it sounds delicious.

  69. I *love* Matzo Ball Soup! My grandma used to make it for us when we were little, and still does, when we’re sick. It’s wonderful. I used to love when I would get a slightly under cooked Matzo Ball. Mmmm… I can taste it now!

  70. This post oozes so much love!
    It’s so wonderful that you have this tradition in your family. Your post makes me miss autumn and the glory of soups/stews and sweet smell of rolls baking in the oven. :)

  71. Lovely post. I have to admit I’ve never had Matzo Ball Soup and this post – your vivid descriptions make me want to right away!

    P.S. I love the pink nails. :)

  72. How wonderful! Your poetic writing style transported me into your kitchen for a few minutes …. in my case there’s nothing in the world that beats my Nonna’s cooking! Nonna is Italian for grandma :) Unfortunately I’m not a good cook … my husband is! Precious times like you describe are truly to be cherished.

  73. What a lovely post. I love passing down recipes through the generations. I have a few that I, too, am looking to keep alive through my girls. Your girls do look happy making the soup – I am surprised that they won’t eat it after being part of the process – this line usually works for me.

  74. I have never had matzo ball soup. I also don’t know much about cooking homemade soup. This is a very special tradition to continue with your girls, even if they don’t eat it.

  75. I absolutely love this post. My five year old son and I cook dinner together everyday. And that is the most pleasurable time of the day for us.


  1. […] These Little Waves has a lovely piece that rolled in about the same time as soup weather. Her post, My Kids Hate Matzo Ball Soup, comes complete with a fabulous […]