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Moroccan Chicken-and-Couscous Soup

A mainstay in Morocco, steamed couscous topped with a very liquid stew is undeniably delectable, but not exactly quick. We've found, though, that combining all the ingredients in a soup yields similarly sumptuous results in a much shorter time. The dish is decidedly spicy; if you prefer less heat, just reduce the amount of cayenne.

Plus: More Soup Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4), cut into approximately 1 1/2-by-1/4-inch strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 sweet potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the chicken, cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sweet potato, zucchini, tomato puree, water, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the couscous to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat. Let the soup stand, covered, for 2 minutes; add the parsley and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Soup with such a riot of flavors needs a wine that's big but simple. Try a California Zinfandel here for its generous, spicy fruit, supple texture, and full body.

Photo © Karen Mordechai Published October 2014

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