Soup Recipe – Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Soup: Saffron, Spices, and Couscous Make a Rich, Hearty Soup Exotic

This soup, though it requires a lot of steps, is fairly easy to make. If you are unfamiliar with the Moroccan staples used in the soup, just substitute with the mentioned ingredients. If you do not access to ras el hanout, which is a Moroccan spice blend that literally translates to “head of the shop” and refers to the best spice blend a merchant has to offer, substitute with a pinch each of the following ground spices and blend together into the flour to season the chicken: ground cumin, ground ginger, ground coriander, ground cardamom, ground turmeric, ground nutmeg, ground clove, and ground black pepper.

The flavor will be less complex than a full ras el hanout blend, but the spices will enhance the flavor of the chicken and the broth. You can also rub a small amount of harissa paste, which is a spicy chili paste, onto the chicken instead, if it is available. Moroccan cooking relies a lot on spices and preserved citrus to add a distinctive flavor to its dishes. Adjust the spice level to suit your personal tastes.

two sauces topped with seeds

Ingredients for Moroccan Chicken Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of smen (Moroccan clarified butter) or butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup flour, to dust the breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout (or optional spice blend) to season chicken
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 parsnip, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • a generous pinch of saffron
  • a few small pieces of preserved lemon rind, optional
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon juice (or regular lemon juice if no preserved lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 5 ounces couscous
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Moroccan Chicken Soup

  1. Heat the oil and smen (or butter) in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Fry the onion for 3 or 4 minutes until softened.
  3. Mix flour, ras el hanout, and salt and pepper together on a plate and dust the chicken pieces.
  4. Fry the chicken until browned, careful not to tear the flesh.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pot and reserve. Add the carrots and the parsnip to the pot and reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Cook the vegetables for a few minutes, stirring often.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, cinnamon stick, paprika, and preserved lemon. Season with salt and pepper (and additional ras el hanout if desired).
  8. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, and let simmer for about an hour. The vegetables should be very tender.
  9. To prepare the saffron, add it to two tablespoons of boiling water and mix.
  10. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon juice and add parsley and mint.
  11. When the saffron is cooled, stir it into the egg mixture.
  12. After the soup has simmered, remove the chicken breasts from the pot and increase the heat to bring the soup back to a boil. Add the couscous, remove the soup from heat and cover.
  13. While the couscous is cooking, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  14. After the couscous has cooked in the soup for 5 minutes, place the pot back over a low heat and stir in the chicken and the egg and saffron mixture. Cook for an additional one to two minutes, stirring.
  15. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve promptly!

Enjoy this rich and flavorful Moroccan chicken soup with some crusty bread on a cold night! This soup serves 4 to 6.

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