North African Chicken Soup

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.

Plastic container or North African chicken soup with shredded chicken, ras el hanout, couscous, and preserved lemon

Lord knows we could use a little something serene in the middle of our workday. And we suspect you could, too. This insanely soothing, incredibly satiating, and serenely aromatic North African chicken soup has us wishing we always had a stash of it in the fridge to warm us up on cold winter nights and calm us down at our desks at work. It’s also an easy and inexpensive chicken soup to toss together and it keeps incredibly well. Originally published January 11, 2015. Renee Schettler Rossi

North African Chicken Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 2 to 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (3/4 to 1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (found in the spice section of most supermarkets)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • One (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 2/3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • Pinch granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons uncooked couscous (1 3/4 oz) (or substitute quinoa for a gluten-free alternative)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 ounces shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinsed, pulp discarded, and peel finely chopped (optional)


  • 1. 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.
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the package instructions.
  • 4. 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.

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