Yemeni Chicken Soup with Hawaij

Yemenite soup is a simple chicken soup eaten in Yemen and especially typical of the Jewish Yemeni community. In Israel today Yemeni soup is the staple of the Jewish Yemeni diet and is served both as a standard lunch or dinner or Shabbat meal.

Each house hold has its own favourite version of this simple and nourishing soup but common to all recipes is the inclusion of the typical Yemeni spice mix, Hawaij.

You can buy a premixed Hawaij spice mix and it is available in most Middle Eastern grocery stores. Basic ingredients of Hawaij are:  Ground cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cardamom seed, and coriander seeds.

Yemeni chicken soup with hawaij

Yemeni chicken soup with hawaij

To make the spice mix yourself:


1/2 cup cumin seeds

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

Grind the above spices together and then add 1 tablespoon of turmeric. Mix all together.

 Chicken soup recipe

1 large chicken cut into 8 pieces

3 potatoes (peeled and cut in quarters)

3 carrot (peeled and cut into chunks)

1 large turnip (peeled and cut into large cubes

1 tomato cut in half

1 large onion, sliced

A bunch of parsley, celery leaves and/or coriander

Salt and water

2 heaped tablespoon Hawaij

Half a lemon

4 whole peeled garlic cloves


Bring a large pot of water to the boil and put in the chicken pieces. Once the water comes back to the boil, throw the water away and clean out the pot. Also rinse off the chicken in cold running water to get rid of any foam or fat that may be on them.

Now start again with a pot of fresh cold water and the chicken. Add all the ingredients except the Hawaij. The fresh herbs can be placed tied in a bunch and removed later or simply chop up the herbs and add to the soup. Bring the soup to the boil and add the Hawaij.

Turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until the chicken and potatoes are cooked.

The Yemeni chicken soup is traditionally served with bread and Hilbe (a paste made out of fenugreek seeds) and a chilli relish called S’chug.

Adding a squeeze lemon into the soup gives that extra boost

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