Moroccan chicken soup with couscous

One of Mariah Carey’s new babies is called “Moroccan.” Not Morocco, Moroccan. Strange but true. It makes me pull a face that I hope will never be photographed.

This Moroccan soup has nothing to do with Mariah Carey or her twins, thankfully. But rather everything to do with the sultry and mysterious land of clay tagines, intricate red and purple tapestries, and spicy fragrant broths. The Kingdom of Morocco is on my official list of countries and/or cities to visit for food and travel purposes ASAP (along with Istanbul, France, Tokyo, Italy and New York City). Seeing that I haven’t experienced authentic Moroccan food first hand, I can only try to put my rookie spin on things here in South Africa.

What I do know, is that I love Moroccan spices like cumin, paprika and coriander, along with the herbs that Moroccans commonly use such as mint, parsley and coriander leaves. Team it up with a tender chicken broth and the most famous Moroccan staple of all – couscous – and I suppose we have a Moroccan soup!


1 whole chicken (roughly 1,5 kg), cut into quarters

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon harissa paste, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like things really hot!)

1 litre water, recently boiled

3 tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cinnamon stick

500 ml chicken stock (warmed)

1/2 cup couscous

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (or 1 teaspoon dried mint)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat and brown chicken quarters for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add chopped onions and cook untill onions has softened (around 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in cumin, paprika and harissa (or cayenne pepper). Add water and bring to the boil.
  4. Halve the tomatoes, scrape out seeds, then grate from the inside out down to the skin (this sounds weird, but it is actually very easy). Discard the skins.
  5. Add grated tomatoes to the pot, along with tomato paste, sugar, cinnamon stick, salt (about 1 teaspoon) and ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for an hour or untill the chicken is really tender and falling from the bone.
  6. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, remove bones (use tongs or wait untill it’s cool enough to handle), and tear the meat into shreds. Return the meat to the pot, add 500 ml chicken stock and bring back to a boil.
  7. Add couscous, stirring for about 1 minute.
  8. Reduce heat, then add parsley, coriander, mint and lemon juice. Remove from heat and let it stand uncovered for about 10 minutes.
  9. Serve with crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from “Cooking Moroccan”, Murdoch Books.

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  1. oooh this soup looks super yummy!!!

    1. It was my first try, but I’ll be making this again, for sure! Really tasty!

  2. Our fav soup ever! I am cooking this soup almost every week. Great books, well done!

    1. Ah, great! Let me know if there is something else that you think I should check out!

  3. Mariah Carey is a loon – which I guess we knew ;o) The soup, detached as it is from her offspring and looniness, sounds absolutely fab – what’s not to like about a soup with cumin, harissa AND paprika?? Love that blue background too – a tablecloth? A napkin??

    1. Hahaha, had a good laugh now about your “loon” comment. The blue background is the most beautiful Wonkiware platter – a huge one I bought at the Good Food and Wine Show. I just want to serve everything on it, everyday.

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