Yemenite-Style Matzo Ball Soup

Ingredients for Chicken Soup

  • 1 whole chicken, 4 pounds, cut in pieces
  • 2 beef marrow bones (optional, adds richness to broth) 4 quarts water
  • 3 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed clean
  • 1 large brown onion, rinsed clean and halved, skin on 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¾ tsp anise seeds
  • ¾ tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper

Ingredients for Matzo Ball

  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted schmaltz (or substitute grapeseed oil)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro (reserved from soup ingredients) 3 quarts water

Ingredients for Herb Schug

  • 1 bunch parsley (2 cups roughly chopped) 1 bunch cilantro (2 cups roughly chopped) 10 whole jalapeño peppers
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste ½ tsp anise seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


You will also need: 2 stock pots, 8 quarts each - one must have a lid; coffee or spice grinder; kitchen twine; mesh strainer; large bowl; small bowl.

Notes: If making for Passover, ensure that your baking powder is Kosher for Passover. For those who do not enjoy cilantro, fresh parsley or dill may be substituted.


Servings: 6 - Cook Time: 3 hours - Kosher Key: Meat

1. Place chicken pieces and marrow bones on the bottom of an 8 quart stock pot. Add 4 quarts (16 cups) water to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, skimming the foam that rises to the top. Discard the foam.

2. When most of the foam has been removed, stir in 3 ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tbsp salt, 1 ½ tsp black pepper and the 3 garlic cloves into the pot.

3. Take about ¼ of your cilantro bunch and roughly chop it. Take about a tablespoon of the roughly chopped cilantro and mince it fine. Reserve the chopped and minced cilantro separately in covered bowls in the refrigerator until ready to use. Tie up the remaining cilantro in a bundle with kitchen twine.

4. Add the cilantro bundle and halved onion to the pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer. Let the soup cook for 90 minutes, keeping an eye periodically to make sure the simmer is low and bubbling but not boiling too rapidly. Stir gently a few times during cooking.

5. While chicken soup is simmering, use a coffee grinder to grind together cumin, anise and coriander seeds along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Reserve spice blend.

6. Also while chicken soup is simmering, make your matzo balls (instructions below).

7. After 90 minutes, use a pair of tongs to pull out the onion, the cilantro bundle, the marrow bones and the chicken. Pull the chicken meat from the bones and shred into small pieces. Discard the bones and skin.

8. Strain the chicken broth into a clean pan or large bowl, rinse the soup pot, then return the broth to the pot. This will remove any larger spice pieces or impurities for a prettier broth.

9. Add the chicken meat back to the soup pot. Stir 1 ½ tsp of the ground spice blend into the broth along with additional salt and black pepper to taste. I usually add about ½ tsp more of salt, it really makes the spices pop. Reheat the chicken soup to desired serving temperature. Stir in the roughly chopped cilantro that you reserved earlier.

10. Scrape the marrow out of the bones and add it to the broth, if desired, or serve the marrow bones with soup to anybody who enjoys them. You may also discard them if you wish, their main purpose is to add flavor to the broth.


1. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together the matzo meal, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. In another bowl, use fork to mix together the eggs, oil or melted schmaltz, and minced cilantro.

2. Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix all ingredients together with a fork until just combined. Do not over-mix. Put the bowl of matzo ball mixture into the refrigerator and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

3. Bring 12 cups of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp turmeric, ½ tbsp salt, and 1 ½ tsp of the spice blend (instructions above) to create a spiced broth.

4. Form the chilled matzo ball mixture into 1 inch balls (walnut-sized). Don't overwork the mixture when you roll the balls. You should end up with 15-20 matzo balls.

5. Lower the spiced broth to an even bubbling simmer and drop the matzo balls gently into the liquid. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and let the balls cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the matzo balls are fluffy, soft, and cooked tender through the center. Keep the pot covered-- no peeking until 30 minutes have gone by!

If you've followed instructions carefully, the balls should be floating on the surface of the water like billowy clouds of deliciousness. Be sure to cut into a test ball to check for doneness all the way to the center. If it is still dense in the center, continue cooking for a few more minutes.

6. Serve each bowl of the Yemenite chicken soup with 2-3 cooked matzo balls. This soup is usually served with schug alongside, a spicy herb sauce that can be stirred into the broth to add even more flavor.

7. If you don’t plan on serving the whole pot of soup at one sitting, make sure you remove the matzo balls from the broth and let them come to room temperature before storing them in a separate container. If left to sit in the broth for too long, they'll become mushy.

HERB SCHUG (Modified for Passover)

Easy recipe for fiery, herby green Yemenite sauce with cilantro, parsley, jalapeños, garlic, spices and salt. Adds a spicy kick to all kinds of foods. This recipe makes two full cups of schug; it is only used sparingly, a little goes a long way.

Makes: 2 cups - Prep Time: 20 minutes - Kosher Key: Parve

1. Add your parsley and cilantro to the food processor, a half bunch at a time, and process to roughly chop. Scrape the sides and stir the herbs periodically to make sure they are evenly chopped. Do not over-process, pieces and stems are fine.

2. Carefully stem and seed the jalapeño peppers. Wear gloves for this if possible; the peppers will leave a layer of capsaicin on your skin for 24-48 hours that can burn and irritate. Best to wear gloves and avoid this misery! Discard the seeds from the peppers, unless you are good with extremely spicy flavors... then, reserve a few.

3. To the chopped herbs in the processor, add the jalapeños, garlic cloves, salt, anise seeds, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and olive oil into the food processor. Pulse the mixture, scraping the sides periodically, until it reaches a rough pesto-like consistency-- not super smooth, some texture is good.

4. Taste the mixture— but be careful, it's pretty hot! Add more salt to taste if needed (salt really makes the spicy flavors pop). If you want it spicier, you can blend in some of the jalapeño seeds. Keep it in a sealed jar or container in the refrigerator, covered with a layer of olive oil, for up to 5 days; you can also freeze for longer storage.