Although matzo ball soup isn’t a traditional Hanukkah dish the way latkes are, many families include it in their celebratory meal for its warmth and comfort. The Atlanta chef Jenny Levison, founder of the city’s beloved Souper Jenny chain, includes the flavorful dish in her cafés’ regular rotation as well as on her Hanukkah catering menu.
“Matzo ball is a Jewish staple in our culture and food. It’s a part of what I knew as a holiday meal growing up,” Levison says. According to her family lore, the soup—a recipe from her sister-in-law—cures everything. “It’s made with love, and any time someone makes something for you, it’s better than when you make it yourself.”
Levison has been proving that mantra since 1999. Then an actress, she used her last $10,000—earned from a hand modeling gig—to open a casual, eclectic lunch spot in the city’s Buckhead neighborhood. Today she’s the owner of five Souper Jenny locations, a four-time cookbook author, and a repeat Today Show guest. During the pandemic, she traveled the country in an RV, ladling out restorative meals along the way, in what she dubbed “the Kindness Tour.” She also operates the Souper Farm in Atlanta and runs a nonprofit, the Zadie Project, in honor of her late father; the group has provided more than 200,000 quarts of soup to local children in need. “Usually donated food is packaged. These are fresh, nutritious meals,” she says.
Sharing the love indeed.