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Shared by Hilla Segev

Yemenite Soup With Chicken and Hawaij

Yield: 8-10 servingsTime: 1 hour 5 minutes

Yemenite Soup With Chicken and Hawaij

Yield: 8-10 servingsTime: 1 hour 5 minutes

Family Journey


For as long as Hilla Segev can remember, she’s eaten this fragrant Yemenite soup for Shabbat. Known in Israel as marak temani (Hebrew for Yemenite soup), it’s typically made with either chicken or beef, lots of vegetables, and a heady spice blend called hawaij. 

When Hilla was young, her family would go to her grandparents’ house on Friday nights to share the Shabbat meal, which started with dishes like a salad of cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, onion, and parsley; fried cauliflower with lemon; and a roasted meat dish Hilla knows as “shawi.” The soup was served as an entree along with lachuch, a Yemenite flatbread, and hilbe, a fenugreek-based paste.

Though her grandmother never wrote down the recipe for her soup, Hilla watched her make it every week. And, when she started cooking for herself as an adult, she made the soup over and over, mimicking what her grandmother did in the kitchen, until it tasted familiar. 

The soup gets its most prominent flavor and golden hue from hawaij, (also spelled hawayej and hawayij, among transliterations) a bold spice mix of turmeric, cumin, black pepper, coriander, and cloves. In certain markets, it’s common to see both pre-mixed “soup hawaij” as well as “sweet hawaij,” which contains cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, and ginger. If the packaging doesn’t specify which style it is, inquire about the ingredients list, as the two blends are quite different in flavor.

This recipe comes from a collaboration between Momentum and the Jewish Food Society. Find more recipes from this collection at "Recipes from the Momentum Community", created with the help of Rebecca Firsker and Ame Gilbert. 


  • 1 (3 ½ to 4 pound) chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped 
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped 
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces 
  • 1 large Beefsteak tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons soup hawaij
  • Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Lachuch (Yemenite flatbread) or another flatbread, for serving
  • Hilbe (Yemenite fenugreek paste), for serving  
Soups & StewsShabbatMeat Middle East


  • Step 1

    Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium until it shimmers. Working in batches if needed, place the pieces of chicken in a single layer, skin-side down, in the pot. Season the chicken with a few pinches of salt and sear until the chicken skin is deeply golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Flip, season with a few pinches of salt, and cook the other side for 5 to 6 minutes, until the meat easily releases from the pot. (If searing in batches, remove the meat to a sheet pan or large plate and repeat with remaining chicken.) Return all the chicken back into the pot and add enough water to just cover the chicken, (8 to 10 cups) then bring to a boil over high heat. 

  • Step 2

    Reduce the heat to a low and simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is very tender. Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and place on a cutting board. Continue cooking the rest of the chicken for another 10 minutes, then remove to the cutting board. When the chicken is cool, remove and discard the skin and bones from the meat, then chop or pull the meat into bite-sized pieces. (Alternatively, serve whole, bone-in, skin-on pieces of meat in bowls of soup). Set aside.

  • Step 3

    Stir in the potatoes, onion, carrot, zucchini, tomato, garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt, then continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Return the pulled or chopped chicken to the pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon hawaij.Taste and add more hawaij and/or salt to taste. 

  • Step 5

    Serve immediately. Garnish the soup with parsley or cilantro and serve with lachuch or hilbe if desired. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.