East meets west in Ora’s Yemenite chicken soup

Guest post by Ora Shalom-Berger, along with her husband Haim.


For me, like for most people, just the thought of certain foods immediately conjures up warm memories of my childhood, evoking all kinds of positive associations. While growing up in a Yemenite family in Israel – to which my parents had immigrated from Yemen in 1949 – food played a central role.

Every Friday, my mom’s famous Yemenite chicken soup was an integral part of our Shabbat dinner. I can’t forget its smell, which signified the welcoming of the weekly Jewish Sabbath. All these years later, I’m proud to continue this tradition with my family in Canada, albeit sometimes with a twist.

In the Israeli context, my roots are “eastern” whereas my husband’s (right in above photo) background is in the “west.” He was born in the United States and moved to Israel with his family when he was 9 years old. We met at Ben-Gurion University in Bersheva, got married, and in the process created a sort of union between east and west. In 2001, we moved to Canada.

All these years later, I still miss Israel a lot, especially on Friday evenings. We keep the Shabbat dinner tradition in general and the Yemenite chicken soup in particular. It’s one of the things that makes me feel good and feel at home with my husband and our children.

In the last few years, we came up with the idea of combining the Passover Kneidlach with the Yemenite Chicken Soup. (Kneidlach is another word for matzah balls, those golden dumplings often found in Jewish Ashkenazi chicken soup.) As such, this Sephardic and Ashkenazi mix is, in a way, the integration of east and west.


It’s with great pleasure that I share with all of you my recipe for Yemenite Chicken Soup.(Tip: you can cook the Kneidlach in the Yemenite chicken soup).

Yemenite Chicken Soup

Put in a large pot:

1 large onion – cut into approx. 6 pieces

3 garlic cloves – peeled and squashed/diced

2 carrots – peeled and cut

3-4 medium potatoes – peeled and cut (medium pieces)

1 celery stick cut into pieces (of approx. 1 inch) – optional

Approx. 2 cups of water (to cover above ingredients)

Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes

– – – – – – – – – –


1 tbsp. Hawaij (Yemenite traditional blend)

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. chicken powder (optional)



Cook for another 10 minutes

– – – – – – – – – –


8 chicken drumsticks and 1 piece of chicken bones (neck)


1 whole small chicken, cut in pieces and 4 chicken drumsticks

7-8 cups of water

Bring to boil and cook for another 40 minutes

– – – – – – – – – –

At the very end (5 last minutes), add:

1/2 cup of Parsley / Cilantro – optional

Here’s a recipe for Knaidelach using a few simple ingredients.


3/4 cup matzo meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)

3 large eggs

3 tbsp melted schmaltz (or substitute grapeseed oil)

1 tbsp minced fresh dill (optional)

3-4 quarts soup broth or salted water


I hope you enjoy this soup as much as my family always does. Wishing everyone who celebrates Pesach all the best for Chag Sameach!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tali Daniel says:

    This is the best soup we’ve had for Passover. It’s very savoury and the delicious taste leaves us waiting impatiently for the next year’s batch.
    In addition to great cooking, the Berger family always greet us with a warm welcome that makes us feel at home.
    The Daniel’s


  2. Luba M says:

    I tried the source…Ora”s Yemanite chicken soup (with the Kneidalach). It was so delicious!! This is the kind of chicken soup twist you want to eat over and over again. Thanks Ora!


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