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Yemenite chicken soup


  • 4 to 5 lb chicken, whole or cut up
  • 2 marrow bones or a few pieces of beef shoulder, brisket or short ribs (about 1lb total)
  • 3 to 4 quarts water
  • 1-inch piece fresh turmeric root, scrubbed or peeled
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, scrubbed or peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 onions, skins-on and halved
  • 4 carrots, whole, scrubbed or peeled
  • 2 ribs celery or 4 oz peeled celeriac (celery root), roughly cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 parsnip, whole, scrubbed, or peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (with stems and roots) + chopped leaves for serving
  • 2 teaspoons hawaiij spice blend + more to taste, optional
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Kosher salt, to season
  • Z’hug, for serving


  1. Place the chicken and the marrow bones, if using, in a large pot and cover by about three inches with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Scum will rise to the surface; reduce the heat to medium-low, skim, and discard.
  2. Add the turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, parsnip, and cilantro, and bring to a boil. Add the hawaijj, tomato paste, and two teaspoons of salt. Skim again if necessary. Reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for three to four hours or longer, partially covered, or until the chicken and vegetables have given you all they have to give.
  3. Strain the soup into a bowl and set it on a wire rack. If not serving right away, let cool to room temperature, then put in the refrigerator to chill completely. Discard the fat that solidifies on the surface or save and freeze it to use as a seasoned schmaltz. The soup will keep in the refrigerator for at least one week or for a few months in the freezer.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bones to add when serving the soup (discard skin and bones, as well as turmeric, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and the skin of the onions.) If using marrow bones, remove the marrow, cut it into pieces, and set it aside to add to the soup when serving. If using chunks of beef, cut them into smaller pieces and add them to the chicken. Cut the vegetables into smaller chunks.
  5. If you’re serving right away, reheat the strained soup with the chicken, meat, if using, and vegetables. Season to taste. Serve with z’hug or chopped fresh cilantro, and marrow, if using. Enjoy! 

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