Post 39: Rebbitzen Heller: Merit Doesn’t Die and Yemenite Soup Recipe with Beef, Chicken or Lamb, including recipe for hawayej spice blend – Tori Avey

| Dear friends,  First of all I want to thank you again for being in touch and being there so much. I haven’t taken all of the calls you made off the telephone yet because they are so beautiful and meaningful. Things here are much, much better than anyone could have dreamed. Shmuli was released from the hospital on Thursday night and only has to return as an outpatient twice a week. Sleeping in his own bed, being with the kids who couldn’t even begin to express their joy at having him home, and having Miri there to tell his friends to come by later if he is sleeping is a great gift. On Sunday he returned to the hospital to see the plastic surgeon who operated on his ear. He had told us that he didn’t expect a perfect result, but since Shmuli’s hearing wasn’t affected (and he is the 43- year-old father of 9 and not a 22-year-old in shidduchim), we made peace with it easily. Things turned out different. The surgeon was close to tears and unhesitatingly used the word miracle. This isn’t the first time.  His transparent kippah notwithstanding, the surgeon was one of the family. This is how we felt last week Tuesday night when there was a memorial gathering commemorating the end of the shiva. Neve turned over the dining room and the simchah hall above to the organizers. More than 4,000 (you read it right) women came. There was an overflow into the streets. A simultaneous event took place for men at the synagogue where the killings took place. There was a screen in Neve so that in addition to hearing the four new widows speak, we heard the distinguished rabbis who spoke from the synagogue. Rebbitzen Twerski spoke first. She read a deeply moving letter from her husband’s students at Toras Moshe (which some of you know as ToMo). They had never met anyone like him. He was completely dedicated to them, to his family and much more than anything to his service of Hashem. All of this was how they knew him even though he maintained an almost impossible study schedule which turned him into a major scholar. She stressed that divisiveness desecrates everything that is holy.
Chaya Levine spoke about bringing light into the world to drive out darkness, and coming from her the message was more moving and credible than it could be from any other source. Brianna Goldberg told us about her husband’s profound humility. The truth is I knew him from the time that we both worked for Targum Press, me as a writer and he as a director of productions. He had the rare combination of being a straight-shooter and simultaneously unfailingly courteous and pleasant. Even at the time, I knew that the word for this is humility. He knew that he had a G-d given capacity for organization, but he never let it make him feel superior to the people he worked with. In short I thought that I had a grasp of who he was. When Brianna spoke I realized that I didn’t know anything. She told us that only when going through his drawers did the family discover that he had a Ph.D. Of course she knew he attended university, but he never talked about how much he achieved. What is even more amazing is that he also had a Smichah certificate (rabbinical ordination) presented to him by the famed and erudite Rosh Yeshiva Lopian of England. I was forced to redefine humility. Miracles, profound spiritual beauty, loss, pain, what do you do with it all? I tend to retreat into “I don’t know” at times like this. Hashem wants us to move carefully into “What should I be/do” rather than hanging out in “why” land.
The Gra (an acronym for the Gaon Rav Eliahu of Vilna, who was the greatest scholar of his time, which was a star studded era), tells us that there are three things to focus on when you need direction. He speaks of three directions you can go when asking, “Where is this all leading?” One possibility is that the cumulative merit of the true tzadikim of all the generations will finally add up enough to bring about Moshiach’s coming when the merit of contemporary tzadikim tilts the scale. Merit doesn’t die or disappear. All of you have ancestors who chose death or extreme deprivation in order to stay Jewish. Their merit didn’t die when they did. Neither did the merit of Rabbi Akiva, or any of the ancient tzadikim all the way up to Moshe and the Avos (patriarchs). Even one person trying to walk their path may change the balance and bring about redemption. Tzadikim don’t have to be famous, they just have to be real. He (the Gra) says that it is possible that the merit of the tzadikim will do it, but he also says that the second possibility is closer to what the early sources say. The second possibility is teshuvah! That means even an ordinary person (in case some of you aren’t true tzadikim as of today) who is full of flaws can change things by deciding to move on.  Being willing to change gears and reexamine goals and actually begin to live differently is what the era demands of each of us. The third possibility is suffering. Suffering isn’t an end in itself. It leads you to turning to Hashem to help you when no one else can help you. It can take you to emunah (faith) which is the final tikkun. When Sarah said to Avraham, “The son of the maidservant shall not inherit with my son, with Yitzchak”, she was speaking prophetically. In fact the sages say that her prophecy was even greater than Avraham’s.
The Arabs subconsciously recognize that they are the sons of the maidservant who was driven out in favor of Sarah’s son Yitzchak. They know that our return to Israel is permanent and real. They are fighting tooth and nail to hold on to what on some level they know is ours. Yishmael means Hashem will hear.  The sages say that at the end it will be their prayers against our prayers, and that ultimately Hashem will see that our prayers are coming from another place than theirs. Just as surely as the life that Sarah’s son Yitzchak lived was different from the life lived by his brother Yishmael, so the lives that we live as individuals and as a nation are very different from the lives they have chosen. Maya Clausen, a former Neve student, is seriously ill and in Hadassah Hospital.  Please daven for Maya Miriam bat Mery. If any friends can visit her, she is in Hadassah Hemotology, Level 2, Room 13.  Sorry for going on and on. Have a wonderful and meaningful week. Love, Tziporah   |

 

Compliments of Tori Avey:

The Yemenite Jews are known for their complex spices and rich, flavorful dishes. I was introduced to Yemenite cuisine for the first time at a Los Angeles restaurant called Shula and Esther, owned by two Yemenite women. Their soup was my favorite; it was spicy, rich and delicious. Some days they featured lamb or beef Yemenite soup and some days chicken. Since then I’ve tasted many versions of Yemenite soup, including several in Israel where the majority of Yemenite Jews now live. When Shula and Esther closed (a tragic day for us), I had to figure out how to make the soup on my own. I learned the basic method and ingredients from my friend whose mother has Yemenite ancestry. Over time I’ve looked at various recipes and adjusted the seasonings until I honed in on the distinct flavor that we remember from Shula and Esther.

Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.

Yemenite soup is traditionally served as the entree of the Shabbat meal on Friday evening. The Jews of Yemen typically used chicken in their soup because meat was expensive and difficult to come by. The meat version has gained popularity throughout Israel. I’ve provided a recipe for each version in this blog. The broth of this soup is spiced with hawayej, a Yemenite spice blend that can be purchased at most Jewish markets. ( see below in detail). It’s even better when made fresh and ground from whole spice seeds.

Hawayej Spice Blend - Yemenite Spice Blend for Meats, Soups and Stews

Every Yemenite family has a different recipe for this soup, but the basics remain the same– a meat or chicken broth, marrow bones, onions, potatoes, and hawayej. This soup is generally served with two Yemenite condiments, hilbeh and schug. Hilbeh is a gelatinous sauce made with fenugreek seeds; it takes 2-3 days to make and the process is quite involved. Schug is a sort of Yemenite salsa made from peppers, garlic, and spices.

Note: these recipes have been retested, updated and rephotographed since they were originally posted.

Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.

 

Yemenite Soup

YEMENITE CHICKEN SOUP INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole 3-4 lb. chicken cut into pieces
  • 4-5 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 beef marrow bones
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro—cleaned, rinsed, and tied in a bundle, plus more cilantro to garnish soup
  • 1 large onion, rinsed and halved, skin on
  • 2 tsp hawayej spice blend
  • 1 1/4 lb. russet or Yukon gold potatoes (about 4 medium russets), peeled and cut into large 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper

YEMENITE BEEF SOUP INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed (lamb can also be used)
  • 2 beef marrow bones
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp hawayej spice blend
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of cilantro—cleaned, rinsed, and tied in a bundle, plus more cilantro to garnish soup
  • 1 1/4 lb. russet or Yukon gold potatoes (about 4 medium russets), peeled and cut into large 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper

YOU WILL ALSO NEED

  • 6-8 quart stock pot, kitchen twine
Total Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

Servings: 6-8 servings

To Make Yemenite Chicken Soup

  • Place chicken pieces and marrow bones on the bottom of a 6-8 quart stock pot. Add 12 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, skimming the foam that rises to the top.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.Stir 2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tbsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and garlic cloves into the pot. Add the cilantro bundle and onion, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a 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.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.After 90 minutes, use a pair of tongs to pull out the onion, the cilantro bundle and the two chicken breasts on the bone. Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Pull the meat from the bones and shred it. Discard the bones and skin.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.Add the chicken breast meat back to the soup pot. Stir 2 tsp hawayej spice blend into the broth along with additional salt and black pepper to taste. I usually add about 1 tsp more of salt, it really makes the spices pop. Add the potato chunks to the broth. At this point, you can also add other vegetables if you wish, including small slices of carrot, celery, zucchini, etc. Bring back to a low simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more, or until the largest potato chunks are tender (and the other veggies, if you decide to add them).
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.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. Serve each bowl with a few potato chunks, a chicken leg, and some of the other chicken meat. I usually remove the skin and cartilage from the chicken pieces prior to serving for a nicer presentation. Garnish each bowl with fresh chopped cilantro. This soup is usually served with schug alongside; it can be stirred into the broth to add more spicy flavor.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.

To Make Yemenite Beef Soup

  • In a heavy 6 quart pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high. Sprinkle the meat chunks with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the pan and sear it, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.Pour meat into a bowl and reserve. Drain the excess fat from the pot. Add another 1 tbsp olive oil to the pot and add the chopped onions. Let the onions cook for several minutes until they are softened and brown, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot as they cook.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.Add meat chunks back to the pot along with the marrow bones. Cover with 14 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.Stir in 1/2 tbsp turmeric and 1/2 tbsp salt. Add the cilantro bundle and the garlic cloves. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Let the soup cook for 2 1/2 hours, keeping an eye periodically to make sure the simmer is low and bubbling but not boiling rapidly.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.After 2 1/2 hours your meat chunks should be quite tender. Remove the cilantro bundle. Stir 1 1/2 tsp hawayej spice blend into the broth along with additional salt and black pepper to taste (I usually add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp more of salt, but we like things on the salty side). Add the potato chunks to the broth. Bring back to a simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more, or until the largest potato chunks are tender.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.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. Serve each bowl of soup garnished with fresh chopped cilantro (optional). This soup is usually served with schug alongside; it can be stirred into the broth to add more spicy flavor.
  • Learn to make Yemenite Soup with Beef or Chicken - traditional spicy soup recipe made with hawayej spicy blend. Warming, filling and full of flavor.
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