Sunday, January 18, 2009

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous Soup

This is one of my favorite lunches. It manages to be light and fresh in summer while still feeling hearty and warming in winter. This recipe started out at Food & Wine but has gone through quite a bit of modification. I like it pretty spicy, so I tend to add a good bit of cayenne, but adjust that to your own taste. (Whenever I give a range of how much to add for any given spice, it's safe to assume I add the amount at the high end of that range...) We had ridiculous snow here today, and this was the perfect thing to have simmering on my stove as I sat under a blanket watching the snow fall... I used to make this with white-fleshed sweet potatoes, but I've had trouble finding those both in Melbourne and here in Burlington and I've found that the more common orange-fleshed sweet potatoes work out almost as well. If you like this soup, you may want to experiment with the two and see which you prefer.

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous Soup
   2 medium onions, roughly chopped
   1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne
   1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
   1 tablespoon ground cumin
   2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
   5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces
   4 - 5 small zucchini, quartered length-wise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
   1 large sweet potato (~1 pound) cut into 1/4-inch dice
   1 14.5-ounce can petite-cut tomatoes (can substitute diced)
   4 cups chicken stock
   2 cups water
   1/2 cup raw couscous

Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the spices (cayenne through sea salt) and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken, stirring to combine. Cook until the chicken just starts to turn opaque, then add the zucchini, sweet potato, tomatoes, chicken stock, and water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 - 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked. Remove the pot from the heat and add the couscous. Stir to combine then allow to sit, covered, for about 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

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