This is a meal onto itself. It is also a wonderful comfort food. Vegetables, meat, spices, it’s all there. All you need with Yemenite Soup to round out the meal is some hunks of good dunking bread and salad. Perfect expat food!
It is customary to center big hunks of potatoes in the soup, but I avoid doing that, as it spells “high carbs” too graphically for comfort. So I use them with discretion and dice them small.
We Make Lots of Bones About Yemenite Soup
It’s all about the bones in this soup. The long cooking releases all the gelatin contained in the bones. It results in a wonderfully thick and gelatinous bone broth: THAT is the crux of this dish!
Yemenite Soup Without Meat
All of you avoiding red meat, turkey thighs and broth and proceed just as in the recipe.
A Word About Halbah, Fenugreek
It is the trademark ingredient of Yemenite cooking, and Yemenite Soup: If you believe that unappealing mudpacks give your skin its renewed glow, then you should have no trouble believing that fenugreek does wonders for some dishes: Bitter, pungent, and acrid by itself, it has none of the inviting qualities of its fellow spices (fragrance, color, flavor); yet it is delicious combined with other ingredients in this soup and many condiments. Very healthy too! We used to sneak it into drinks and soups for upset stomachs and complexions. Take a look at my Moroccan steel-cut oat soup, it’s loaded with fenugreek
Hawaidj is a Sort of Yemenite Curry
Another must in Yemenite soup, is easy to find in all kosher and ethnic grocery stores. I love this brand hawaidj Not just because it is delicious, but because, crucially, it does NOT contain salt. Why put salt in a spice mix? Salt is the easiest seasoning for, and the the one that needs most controlling. Salt free spice mixes afford you much more freedom to use the exciting spice mix even while you dont do overdo the salt.
So this brand Hawaidj lists: Cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, cardamom. I can totally live with this, and spread it thick!
- 3 pounds lean beef of lamb cubes
- 1/2 dozen meat bones
- 3 quarts (12 cups) water
- 3 onions
- 1 bunch flat parsley
- 1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 red peppers
- 3 medium zucchini
- 3 tablespoons Yemeni spice mix (hawayij)
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/3 cup fenugreek powder
- 1 small can tomato paste
- Salt to taste (Put it all the way at the end, and only if necessary; you might not need any, as the meat is salty)
Bring the meat, bones and water to a boil in large pot. Reduce to medium and cook, covered, one hour.
In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, parsley and cilantro, and add to the pot. Dice all the vegetables and add to the pot, with all remaining ingredients. Cook covered on a medium flame, 2 more hours.
Adjust the texture and seasonings.
Makes a dozen servings
Chicken Yemenite Soup
Substitute 8 chicken thighs, skin on and bones in, or 2 turkey thighs with skin and bones. Proceed with the recipe as instructed.