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Yemenite Chicken Soup with Kneidlach

Yemenite Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Yemenite Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

This is a Friday night staple at our house. When my now six-year-old daughter was younger she would call it kinderlach soup. (For anyone who is Yiddish-challenged, kneidlach are matzo balls, while kinderlach are children).

The hawaij spice is the most important ingredient for making Yemenite chicken soup. When shopping for hawaij in Israel, make sure you don’t confuse it with hawaij for coffee. Both blends have the same name, but look and taste completely differently. The soup spice is bright yellow, while the coffee spice is beige. If you live abroad, you can purchase hawaij here or make it by yourself  (the recipe appears below).

It took me several years to perfect my matzo-ball-making technique. Here are the three super-secret steps to making fluffy, delicious matzo balls:

  1. Use seltzer instead of water.
  2. Oil your hands before shaping the balls.
  3. Boil matzo balls under a lid.


For soup:

1 cut-up chicken or 5 chicken legs

1 onion 2 potatoes – sliced

2 carrots – sliced

1 lb pumpkin (cut into 2-inch pieces) – optional

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp Hawaij soup spice

2 whole allspice

1 bay leaf

For matzo balls:

4 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup seltzer

6 tbsp oil

1 cup matzo meal

salt + pepper

For Hawaij soup spice:

2 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp ground black pepper

2/3 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dry coriander (optional)

a tiny pinch of  ground clove

a tiny pinch of  ground cardamom

  1. Start by making the matzo-ball mixture. Combine eggs, water, oil, salt, pepper, and matzo meal and stir thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, bring chicken, onion, salt, and water to a boil. Remove foam. Add vegetables and spices.
  3. Oil your hands and form walnut-size balls from the matzo-ball mixture. Re-grease your hands as necessary. Drop matzo balls into the boiling soup one by one.
  4. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer under a lid for about 35-40 minutes (until carrots are soft).

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