Yemenite Chicken Soup

By • February 12, 2014 0 Comments

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Yemenite Chicken Soup

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


Serves 6-8

The Soup

  • 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)

The Spices

  • 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)
  1. First, 1-2 hours before you begin cooking the soup, start soaking the fenugreek powder to make the hilbe (see spice ingredients).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. After soup has been boiling for 30 minutes, add onions, garlic, tomato, celery, salt, and hawayij. Simmer for another hour, until chicken is tender.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Stir in z'hug and hilbe, and serve as is, or over rice. Sprinkle remaining herbs on top.

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