Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Spicy Tomato Broth with Couscous & Chicken

Rita Maas

Yield: 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

Nutritional Information

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


  • 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.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • SoCo18 | 10/29/2017

    I recently became vegetarian and I decided to adapt this recipe because I loved it so much when I was still omnivorous. I used Swanson veggie broth (tastes a lot like chicken broth) and then replaced the meatiness with carrots, bean sprouts, and some fresh corn. Just as good as before! I was so pleased with how it turned out!

  • SoCo18 | 08/25/2017

    Wow! Simply amazing depth of flavor. I did happen to have harissa and I also used a teaspoon of a Korean pepper (name unknown) that I have in the cupboard. I used half homemade stock and half store-bought. I decided to make this recipe to use some of the excess of tomatoes from my garden, so I also made the tomato paste from scratch. Overall, delicious delicious delicious. Not too tomato-y but definitely a tomato broth. My boyfriend who hates tomato soups thought it was to die for. The only thing I would change is that the couscous I used was rather starchy, but I think that was just a bad brand. I will definitely be making this again. We didn't have any leftovers at all despite making a big pot-full!

  • LadyZsaZsa | 10/13/2015

    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!

  • JT06 | 10/29/2008

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

Rate this Recipe

Write a Review


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.