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Spicy Tomato Broth with Couscous & Chicken


Yields about 12 cups.

Harissa is a fiery condiment used in many North African dishes. If you can’t find it, use cayenne instead. Stir in the couscous just before serving the soup. If it sits for too long, the couscous will absorb all the broth. Don’t use instant couscous—it will turn to mush.

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 lb. chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. harissa or 1/8 tsp. cayenne; more to taste
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3 medium red tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup couscous (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken thighs, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon stick, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, harissa, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked and falls easily from the bone, about 45 minutes.

Take out the cinnamon stick and discard it. Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. Skim any fat from the surface of the broth. Pull all the chicken meat from the bones; discard the bones. Tear the meat into 1-inch pieces and stir the chicken back into the soup.

Over medium-high heat, bring the soup to a gentle boil. Stir the soup constantly as you slowly add the couscous. Reduce the heat to low, add the mint and cilantro, and simmer, uncovered, until the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per cup, Calories (kcal): 200, Fat (kcal): 6, Fat Calories (g): 60, Saturated Fat (g): 1, Protein (g): 25, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2, Carbohydrates (mg): 10, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1, Sodium (g): 240, Cholesterol (g): 95, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Rita Maas

This is one of my classic go-to recipes. Extremely delicious and the prep is quite fast (mostly spices, not much chopping), which is great for a weeknight meal. I'm not a fan of thighs so I substitute for chicken breast. To keep things together, I cut each breast in half (or thirds depending on size), simmer away, then cut into bite-sized pieces at the end...I find this keeps the chicken from shredding while simmering. I also cook the couscous separately and then add it when I'm ready for a meal. Makes for better leftovers!

Fantastic recipe. I have made this soup many times. It is a welcome alternative to traditional chicken soup.

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