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Author Notes: This is a delicious variation on traditional chicken soup, with spice combinations you've probably never tasted before. I'll show you how to make all the Yemenite spices so you'll get it just right: hawayij (a spice combination), z'hug (a hot sauce used in soups or as a condiment, or even a rub for fish or chicken), and hilbe (a creamy sauce often added to soups). One note: The hilbe requires soaking fenugreek powder for three hours, so you'll want to get that soaking *first*; the rest of the spices you can make while the soup is cooking. —Joan Nathan
- 1 chicken, 3-4 lbs., cut into 8 pieces
- 2 large onions
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large tomato, quartered but not cut all the way through
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
- 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 bunch dill, finely chopped
- 1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons hawayij (see spice ingredients below)
- 2 tablespoons z'hug (see spice ingredients below)
- 1/3 cup hilbe (see spice ingredients below)
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns (for hawayij)
- 1 tablespoon black caraway seeds (for hawayij)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (for hawayij)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (for hawayij)
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (for hawayij)
- 2 teaspoons turmeric (for hawayij)
- 1 pinch saffron (optional) (for hawayij)
- 4 green serrano or jalapeno peppers, stems removed and seeds removed but reserved (for z'hug)
- 1 whole head of garlic (for z'hug)
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried (for z'hug)
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, rinsed and dried (for z'hug)
- 2 green cardamom pods, peeled (for z'hug)
- 1 teaspoon cumin (for z'hug)
- 1 teaspoon salt (for z'hug)
- 1/2 cup olive oil (for z'hug)
- 3 tablespoons fenugreek powder (for hilbe)
- 1/2 cup water (for hilbe)
- juice of 1/2 lemon (for hilbe)
- 1 teaspoon salt (for hilbe)
- 1 teaspoon z'hug (see recipe above) (for hilbe)
- First, 1-2 hours before you begin cooking the soup, start soaking the fenugreek powder to make the hilbe (see spice ingredients).
- Then start making the soup: Put chicken in a large pot and cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, skimming off scum, and let it boil for 30 minutes.
- While soup is boiling, make the hawayij: To make hawayij, pound peppercorns, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, turmeric, and (optional) saffron using a mortar and pestle, or use a small food processor.
- After soup has been boiling for 30 minutes, add onions, garlic, tomato, celery, salt, and hawayij. Simmer for another hour, until chicken is tender.
- While soup is simmering, make the z'hug: Put peppers, garlic, cilantro, parsley, cumin, cardamom, and salt in a food processor. Begin processing and gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil, then puree. Adjust for seasonings, adding pepper seeds if you want more heat. Remove contents to a glass container and cover with olive oil. (This will keep for months in a refrigerator in an airtight jar.)
- Now, make the hilbe: The fenugreek seeds should soak in water for at least 3 hours, until the mixture is gelatinous. Add z'hug, lemon juice, and salt, then beat until smooth using an electric hand mixer or whisk. Adjust seasonings. It should be very spicy.
- After the soup has been simmering for an hour, add carrots, potatoes, and all but two tablespoons of the parsley, dill, and cilantro. Cook until vegetables are cooked through.
- Stir in z'hug and hilbe, and serve as is, or over rice. Sprinkle remaining herbs on top.