Yemenite Chicken Soup
This is a traditional Yemenite soup that was a daily item on the menu when I was growing up. For the seder meal, the cook would remove the meat from the pot and add broken-up matzah—enough to sop up the turmeric-infused broth. Then, hilba, a fenugreek relish spiced with chili paste, was added. It all cooked for a while longer until a wonderfully spiced gruel materialized, reminiscent of the mortar that symbolizes the hard work the Israelite slaves endured in Egypt. It was delicious and restorative, satisfying a craving for a dish we ate only on Passover and which we looked forward to during what seemed like a never-ending seder. Nowadays, I serve bowls of broth and let guests add matzah and relish to taste.
- 1 chicken
- ½ large yellow onion, quartered
- 1 tomato, quartered
- ½ bunch cilantro
- Garlic, sliced lengthwise, to taste
- 1 leek, white part only, about 4 inches
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 1½–2 tablespoons hawaij, or to taste (available at kosher markets or make your own)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- For Passover: Several sheets of matzah and hilba
- Place chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water. Cook on medium flame until foam accumulates on top. Skim off as much foam as you can. Add the rest of the ingredients (except matzah and hilba), bring to a boil, lower flame, cover and let simmer until the meat is fully cooked, about one hour.
- For a traditional Passover dish, remove vegetables and meat, adjust seasoning, break matzah into small pieces and add to the broth. Cook for a little while longer until matzah absorbs the broth. You should aim for a soft, wet gruel. Spice with hilba and serve hot.