Yemenite chicken soup is a staple in the Yemenite Kitchen. Rain or shine there is always a pot of soup on the cooktop ready to be served. The original soup recipe is very rustic: whole pieces of chicken and veggies. This is how I taught this recipe in my class at Sur La Table. In this recipe I use traditional ingredients: chicken, onion, garlic, celery, carrots and parsley, and in my own version I add mushrooms and dill. I also simplified the cooking process so all the ingredients go in to the pot in one step.
What makes this soup Yemenite is the use of Hawaij: a mixture of spices that gives the soup its distinctive taste and yellow color. There are two kinds of Hawaij: Hawaij for coffee, which I’m going to explain in a future post, and Hawaij for soup.
There is no one-way of making soup Hawaij. The idea is to play with the ingredients and their quantities and see what works best for your personal preference.
Here is my soup Hawaij formula for 4 quarts of soup:
1½ tbsp tumeric
¼ tbsp ginger
½ tbsp coriander
¼ tbsp cardamom
¼ tbsp cumin
¼ tbsp black Pepper
My Aunts love to make a big quantity of this mixture and keep it in the freezer.
If not all the ingredients are available: turmeric, cumin and black pepper will do the job.
This mixture, ready made, can also be purchased at Pereg-spices.
6-9 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1 large yellow onion
1 celery stalk
3 carrots or bag of shredded carrots (10 oz)
1 package white mushrooms (8 oz)
5 cloves garlic
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch dill
2 quarts chicken broth/water
¼ cup olive oil
3½ tbsp soup Hawaij
Salt - to taste
Cut chicken thighs into cubes. Chop onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Remove stem from mushrooms and slice. Put all ingredients in a 4-quart pot and add oil, soup Hawaij and salt. Cover and let it cook with closed lid on a medium heat for about 20 minutes, mixing from time to time. When chicken and vegetables are fully cooked in their juices, add chicken broth and let boil with open lid.
Note: During cooking yellow foam and oil circles will float over the soup. This can be removed with a spoon or just be left there.
Chop parsley and dill and add to the soup just before turning the heat off, cover with the lid and let the herbs infuse the soup with flavor for one minute.
To make this soup low in fat, let it cool in the fridge over night. The next morning the soup will be covered with a layer of fat that can be easily removed.