When we asked what your favorite matzo-ball soup is in Boston, the answers varied. Some people longed for now-closed restaurants (we miss you, Joan & Ed’s), others preferred soups with seasonal availability (Whole Foods Market only carries it around the High Holidays), and several people steadfastly claimed that there’s just no substitute for homemade.
While nothing can replace your family’s decades-old recipe—and while I’d love to come to each of your homes and taste them all—we did the next best thing: We sampled most of the restaurants and delis you recommended. (Please note: We weren’t able to get to all of them! If we didn’t make it to your favorite place, let us know in the comments why you love it so much.)
Here they are listed in no specific order, because the only way to find your favorite matzo-ball soup is to taste them all yourself!
This version—which I bought frozen, as there were no more refrigerated containers left that day (always a good sign)—is no-frills: just broth, carrots and matzo balls. But the best matzo-ball soup is often simple. The broth is nicely salty and schmaltzy, the carrots are tender, and the matzo balls are compact and substantial. Bonus points for the authentic, familiar, fast-paced feel of the place, which is part deli counter and part sit-down restaurant.
In this from-scratch soup, tender pieces of chicken and slices of carrots pair nicely with round matzo balls that aren’t too compact or dense. The shaggy matzo balls’ look and texture are more reminiscent of the dumplings in chicken and dumplings, one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.
With a healthy dose of egg noodles and carrots, this kosher soup is tasty in and of itself, and elevated even more by Rubin’s authentic New York-deli feel.
Full disclosure: I’ve already publicly declared this to be my favorite matzo-ball soup in Boston. (But some of the others in this lineup certainly give it a run for its money.) With tender chunks of white meat and carrots, and impossibly huge matzo balls, that, despite their size, manage to maintain their airiness, this soup is the perfect combination of rich flavor and light texture.
This soup features a full mirepoix—onions, carrots and celery—and lots of each. The matzo balls are shaggier and less packed than some of the others, which makes it easy to break off the perfect bite-sized piece.
The soup at this wildly popular kosher-style restaurant is similar to that from Inna’s Kitchen, with its tender pieces of pulled chicken and generous quantity of vegetables, but its matzo balls are more tightly packed. The broth is savory and herbaceous.
Touted on the menu as “Penicillin with Matzo Balls,” this soup is loaded with vegetables and farfalle pasta. The bowties might not be traditional, but I like the chew they lend each bite in this chicken-soup-meets-matzo-ball-soup hybrid.