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white bean soup Yemenite zhug

White Bean Soup With Zhug

A simple-but-delicious bean soup topped with zingy Yemenite hot sauce.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-6



For the soup:

  • 1 cup dry white/cannellini beans, or 2 (15-oz) cans (about 3 ½-4 cups)
  • oil, as needed
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 1 large leek, white part only, diced small
  • 1 carrot, diced small
  • 1 rib of celery, diced small
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped small (or 1 Tbsp tomato paste)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and divided
  • 2 large bay leaves, divided
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 10 cups (2 ½ quarts) chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • a spoonful of finely chopped parsley or cilantro stems (leftover from the zhug)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of ½ a lemon, or to taste

For the zhug:

  • 510 small jalapeno peppers (5 for mild, 10 for hot), sliced in half and deseeded
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • ¼ cup oil (a mild neutral oil: sunflower, canola, grapeseed, etc.)


  1. If using dry beans: Soak the beans overnight. In a large pot or in an Instapot, cover the dried beans with 3-4 inches of water. Add a large bay leaf and 4 peeled cloves of garlic to the pot. Simmer beans until tender.
  2. To a large pot add a generous drizzle of oil over medium heat, and add the diced onion, leek, carrot and celery. Sauté the vegetables until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the chopped tomato (or tomato paste), 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, thyme and chopped herb stems to the pot. Stir and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the liquid to the pot; if I’ve made the beans from dried, I like to add a few cups of the bean cooking liquid in addition to broth.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked or canned beans to the pot and simmer for another 20-25 minutes. Taste and season as needed. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
  6. At this point, you can serve the soup as is. However, I prefer to remove about a third of the soup from the pot. I blend the remaining soup until light and creamy, using an immersion blender. I add the remaining soup back to the pot. This makes the soup satisfyingly smooth, with pops of beans and vegetables.
  7. To make the zhug: To a food processor add the deseeded jalapenos, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cardamom, caraway and salt. Pulse until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also chop the ingredients finely by hand. Transfer the chopped mixture to a bowl. Add the oil and lemon juice, and stir until combined.
  8. Serve topped zhug to your taste.


Zhug will last up to 2 weeks in a well-sealed container, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

  • Author: Sonya Sanford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop