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Yemenite Chicken Soup

February 09, 2021
Yemenite Chicken Soup

This recipe also includes recipes for making three different Yemenite spice combinations that should be used in the soup. You can make those spice combinations while the soup is cooking, but note that the hilbe requires soaking fenugreek powder for three hours—so you’ll want to start soaking the fenugreek powder before you start on the soup itself.

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For the soup

  • 13- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1large tomato, almost quartered but not cut all the way through
  • 2stalks celery, left whole
  • 2Tbsp. salt or to taste
  • 1-2Tbsp. hawayij (Yemenite spice combination; see recipe below)
  • 3carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 3potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • ½bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • ½bunch dill, finely chopped
  • ½bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • z’hug (Yemenite hot sauce) to taste (see recipe below)
  • hilbe (Yemenite fenugreek sauce) to taste (see recipe below)

For the hawayij

  • 2Tbsp. black peppercorn
  • 1Tbsp. black caraway seeds
  • 1tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1tsp. cardamom pods, peeled
  • 2tsp. turmeric
  • pinch of saffron (optional)

For the z'hug

  • 4fresh green serrano or jalapeño peppers (about 4 ounces), stems removed and seeds removed but reserved
  • 1whole head garlic
  • ½bunch fresh cilantro, well rinsed and dried
  • ½bunch fresh parsley, well rinsed and dried
  • 1tsp. cumin
  • 2green cardamom pods, peeled
  • 1tsp. salt, or to taste
  • ¼ to ½cup olive oil, plus additional to cover

For the hilbe

  • 3Tbsp. fenugreek powder
  • ½cup water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1generous teaspoon z’hug


To make the soup

  • Step 1

    Put the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with cold water by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that forms and let it cook for 30 minutes. While it’s cooking, make your hawayij.

  • Step 2

    Add the onions, garlic, tomato, celery stalks, salt, and hawayij. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is tender. While it’s simmering, make your z’hug, and then your hilbe.

  • Step 3

    Then add the carrots, potatoes, and all but 2 tablespoons of the parsley, dill, and cilantro. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through. Serve as is, sprinkling each bowl of soup with more of the fresh herbs, or remove the skin and bones from the chicken, then put them back in the soup and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim off the layer of fat from the top of the soup and reheat, garnishing the soup with the remaining herbs. Serve either way over rice, if you want, with another tablespoon of hawayij, with z’hug and hilbe in bowls on the side.

To make the hawayij

  • Step 1

    Either pound spices in a mortar and pestle or use a coffee grinder or small food processor. You can also buy hawayij online through Pereg Gourmet .

To make the z'hug

  • Step 1

    Put the peppers with the garlic, cilantro, parsley, cumin, cardamom, and salt to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Begin processing and gradually add olive oil and puree. Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding the pepper seeds if you want more heat.

  • Step 2

    Remove the contents to a glass jar and cover with additional olive oil. The z’hug will keep for several months, covered in an airtight jar, in the refrigerator.

To make the hilbe

  • Step 1

    Soak the fenugreek powder in the water for at least 3 hours, until the mixture is gelatinous.

  • Step 2

    Add z’hug, lemon juice, and salt. Using an electric hand mixer or a whisk, beat until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. The sauce should be very spicy.