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Gail Simmons shares her grandma's recipe for homemade matzo ball soup.
For the chicken and stock: Combine all chicken and stock ingredients in a large stockpot. Add 3 ½ quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken breasts are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Transfer breasts to a plate. Let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Return the bones to the stock. Continue to simmer, skimming foam from the surface occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, shred the breast meat and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Reserve carrot and celery pieces and refrigerate in a covered bowl until ready to use. Pick through and shred the dark meat, then refrigerate with the breast meat. You should have about 4 cups meat and 10 cups stock. (The stock, chicken and vegetables can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
For the matzo balls: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, schmaltz, club soda, and dill. Stir in the matzo meal, baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Bring a large Dutch oven or wide, heavy pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out the matzo ball mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and, using wet hands, gently roll into balls. Add the matzo balls to the boiling water, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer until the matzo balls are plump, cooked through, and begin to sink to the bottom of the pot, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat. The matzo balls can be kept in the pot of warm water, covered, until ready to serve.
To make the soup: While the matzo balls are simmering, warm the stock in a large pot and season with salt and pepper. Slice the carrots and celery into ½-inch pieces and add to the soup. Add 2 cups shredded white and/or dark chicken meat and simmer to warm through, about 2 minutes. (Reserve the remaining chicken to use in salads, pastas or other dishes.) Ladle the soup, with chicken and vegetables, into bowls. Using a slotted spoon, transfer a matzo ball or 2 into each bowl. Top with a pinch of dill and, if using, a squeeze of lemon.