2 boxes matzah ball mix (the kind with two packets each, to make 4 dozen matzah balls total)
1 cup + 1/4 cup olive oil
3 lbs large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound carrots, shredded or finely sliced
1 bunch parsley, whole
6-7 pound stewing hen
2 teaspoons McCormick Poultry Seasoning (or 1/2 t thyme, 1/2 t sage, 1/2 t marjoram, 1/2 t rosemary, and a dash or two of nutmeg)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
You will need at least two very large cooking pots with lids, a wooden spoon, a slotted spoon, a sharp knife, a chopping board, a colander or large strainer, and a large mixing bowl.
Put the chopped onions in a large deep pot. Add enough olive oil so that when you toss the onions they all get coated well -- about 1/4 cup. Saute on medium-low heat until the onions are transparent, stirring every minute or so.
While that's cooking, beat 8 eggs with 1 cup oil in the large mixing bowl. Don't let it get frothy, just mix until the yolks are nicely broken up. Stir in the matzah ball mix. Cover and set in fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Prepare the chicken. Remove the neck and giblets (I throw them out), rinse well inside and out. When the onions are ready, put the chicken on top of them. Rinse the parsley well, removing the rubber band or whatever might be holding the bunch together but not cutting the parsley at all. Place the bunch of parsley on top of the chicken. Pour in water to cover (at least 2 quarts). Add 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several hearty turns of the black pepper grinder. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat down to a slow simmer. This will now cook for four to five hours.
In the mean time, put about 2 quarts of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large broad pot, and bring that to a boil. If you have enough pots and enough room on the stove top, bring two large broad pots filled with 2 quarts salted water each to a boil.
Turn on the cold water to a slow but steady trickle. You will need to wet your hands frequently to form the matzah balls.
Take the matzah ball batter out of the fridge. With wet hands, form golf-ball sized matzah balls. I wet my palms after each one, but shake them over the sink so I don't get too much water in the batter. As you make them, you can drop them into the boiling water -- or roll up a dozen at a time, then put them all in at once. Keep the water boiling but not too violently. Once all the matzah balls are in the pot(s), cover and turn heat down to barely simmer. Poach them for 20 minutes. (If you are using only one pot, you'll need to do this twice. Don't try to cook more than 2 dozen at a time.)
When done, remove matzah balls with the slotted spoon and refrigerate. Save two quarts of the cooking water too.
After the soup is cooked, strain it into a large pot or bowl. Discard the onions and parsley. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones. Dice the meat, refrigerate. Prepare the carrots (shred or slice) but do not add them to anything yet.
Mix the strained broth with the saved matzah ball cooking water. Refrigerate this too.
About 30 minutes before serving:
Mix half the broth with half the diced chicken meat, half the shredded carrots, and half the matzah balls. Heat and serve!
On the next night, of course, you will serve the rest.
Makes 48 servings, with one matzah ball each. For every additional matzah ball per serving add two boxes of mix, eight eggs, and 1 cup oil.
The secrets of success for this soup are using olive oil, letting the matzah ball batter sit for at least ten minutes before cooking, and not overcooking the carrots.