On a chilly January day, my friend Chanie Apfelbaum invited me to join her at a kitchen warehouse sale. We stumbled upon the most beautiful green Staub pot that was greatly reduced in price, and I couldn’t resist bringing it home with me. As soon as I got home, I wanted to put my new pot to use, and since it was a freezing cold day, I decided to make a comforting and delicious Yemenite soup.
Yemenite soup is a hearty mixture of tender beef, vegetables, and aromatic spices, making it the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. The secret ingredient that sets this soup apart is the hawaij spice blend, which gives the soup its authentic, earthy flavor. Hawaij is a traditional Yemeni spice blend made from a combination of warm spices, such as cumin, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and black pepper. The unique flavor profile is both earthy and slightly spicy. If you’re unable to find the hawaij spice blend in your local supermarket or specialty store, you can easily make your own (recipe below).
It’s important to note that there is a difference between hawaij for soup and hawaij for coffee. Hawaij means “mixture” in arabic, The blend for soup includes spices like cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and black pepper, while the blend for coffee includes spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Both blends are delicious, but they are best used for their respective purposes, as the flavors in each blend are specifically tailored to enhance the taste of either soup or coffee.
If you’re looking to complete the meal, serve this Yemenite soup with fresh sourdough pita bread. The bread will not only add a nice texture to the meal, but also a delicious flavor that pairs perfectly with the soup.
This Yemenite soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold day and is sure to please everyone at the dinner table. And just like how I enjoyed it on that cold January day, with my new Staub pot, you too will fall in love with this delicious and comforting dish.
- 2 lb beef stew meat
- 1 medium onion; diced
- 2 cup chopped carrots
- 2 cup chopped celery
- 4 cloves garlic; roughly chopped
- 1 tomato; scored on top and bottom
- 3 yukon gold potatoes; peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 hot pepper; cut in half (optional)
- 3 Tbsp Hawaij*
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 6 cups water
- Heat 2 Tbs oil in an 8 qt pot over medium heat.
- Add the beef stew meat and sear until browned.
- Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and let cook for a few minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, including the scored tomato, cut potatoes, cilantro, hot pepper (if using), hawaij, cumin, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (if using), and 6 cups of water.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring the soup to a boil.
- Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 3-4 hours.