Yemenite Vegetable Soup With Hawaij

Adapted from Joan Nathan

This hearty aromatic soup recipe comes from the Yemenite-Jewish community. Their cuisine is full of fragrant spices and rich, flavourful dishes. The signature spice mix of the Yemenite community is hawaij, which means “what is needed” in Arabic. Hawaij is often used as a flavouring for soups and stews and there is no one single recipe. Like many other spice blends around the world, every family has its own unique combination that usually includes cumin, black pepper, turmeric, cardamom and coriander.

This soup is our own vegetarian take on traditional Yemenite-Jewish chicken soup. We replaced the chicken with root vegetables but centred the recipe around the star of the dish – hawaij.


  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp hawaij (Yemenite spice mix)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 small parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1 small celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

Hawaij (Yemenite Spice Mix)

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves


Combine all the spices to make the hawaij. Store any unused spice mix in an airtight container in a cool, dry pantry.

Heat olive oil in a medium pot and saute onions until golden brown. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and hawaij and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, celery root, and all but 2 tbsp of the parsley, dill, and cilantro. Pour in the vegetable stock.

Simmer for about 35-40 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with herbs and more hawaij.

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