This North African chicken soup is made with chicken stock, ras el hanout, couscous, and preserved lemon. It’s an easy and inexpensive soup that is just as satisfying at dinner as it is at your desk for lunch the next day.
North African Chicken Soup
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 30 M
- Serves 2 to 4
Heat a splash of oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium and add the ras el hanout and chili flakes. Stir briefly, then add the tomatoes (including the liquid), stock, and a pinch sugar. Simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the package instructions.
If serving the soup right away, stir the cooked couscous and shredded chicken into the soup and warm through. Add the chopped lemon, if using, just before serving.
If stashing the chicken soup in the fridge to take to work the next day, store the couscous and preserved lemon separately from the soup, then mix everything together before reheating. If you want your soup to thicken somewhat and take on a pronounced lemony tang, then combine it all before you toss it in the work fridge—and hope it doesn’t get pinched by the office lunch thief.
Beef and Lamb Variations
In truth, you could make this North African chicken soup recipe with any meat and stock. If swapping lamb or beef for the chicken in this recipe, the soup will benefit from a longer, gentler cooking time.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Wow! I love, love, love this easy North African chicken soup recipe and its complex flavors that come together in a very short time. I made a couple of little swaps to the recipe, but you can go straight for efficient and still be super pleased with yourself.
I roasted chicken thighs per the Tuscan-Style Sautéed Chicken recipe, using oregano in place of rosemary. I used some of the moist, fragrant chicken for this recipe and saved the remainder for another meal. I also skimmed the fat from the cooking juices and used them to enrich a vegetable broth I already had started, though really, it would work just fine to use a rotisserie chicken and store-bought broth if you're pressed for time on a weeknight. I used 2 shallots in place of the onion, Aleppo pepper instead of chili flakes, and one of my own large preserved lemons, and I felt that the seasoning was perfect. (Note to self: Time to start another batch of preserved lemons.)
I used rinsed quinoa (the same amount as the couscous) because I prefer the mouthfeel of quinoa. One thing I might do the next time I make this recipe is to chop my tinned tomatoes a bit before adding them if the pieces look a little large, but really there isn’t anything I would change, except to make this more often. This recipe is a great one for the chicken soup arsenal, with just the right amount of tang and heat. It generously serves two for lunch or even dinner but easily could be a first course in smaller servings. You also could extend it on the fly by adding more chicken or more stock, depending on what you have on hand.
I liked reading this North African chicken soup recipe so much that I couldn't bring myself to make it for 2 servings. I doubled the recipe, in exactly the same proportions, and it made enough for at least 6, maybe 8 servings. The whole process of prepping and cooking took less than an hour.
I had some soup right way and enjoyed every bit of it. This soup is a sinus clearer. Needless to say, my husband stayed far away and I could find only one other person who would share. I’m not a couscous fan, but this soup needed that. And the preserved lemon was a perfect crunchy tidbit. As for tasting better the next day, the couscous had soaked up most of the liquid—it was very soft but not unpleasant. I also thinned the soup down with more chicken broth the second day, and it was still quite spicy but with a much more pronounced lemon flavor—too lemony. Maybe adding it at the last minute is the answer?