Saturday, 4 February 2012

Arabian Nights

Brodo di Pollo Marocchina con Couscous
Quick Moroccan Chicken Soup with Couscous

Ok, it is official, it is here online and I am not denying it... I have a cold! Sniff! A runny nose, aches and pains, a dull headache and all of the other good stuff that goes with it. Ugh! So this evening I decided the best thing to do was to make myself a hot chicken soup- there really IS nothing like it, when it comes to getting your strength back up and raising your spirits- it really is a perfect cure!

But as miserable as I was feeling, there was still no way I was going to make an "ordinary" chicken soup, with corn and noodles and the likes. I didn't have any chicken meat on the bone at home, to make a good broth out of, so I decided I needed to improvise with the chicken breast I had and get some flavor in another way. I wanted to make something spicier and more adventurous and a whole lot quicker. And so I came up with this idea...

I started off with the classic ingredients of celery, carrots and onion, which I sliced very thinly. I sautéed them together with a little olive oil, garlic and crushed ginger, and then added 1 tablespoon of Ras al Hanout "rouge". This was a ground version of the Moroccan spice mix that I love so much, but it had a mild red coloring to it and I was eager to try it out! I stirred the spice mix in thoroughly and deglazed the saucepan with a shot of Brandy (why the heck not?) and brought it to a slow boil with the diced chicken. I reduced the heat and let the chicken simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime I prepared my dish and the couscous.

I made the couscous in the traditional manner, by covering with boiling water and allowing to sit and swell for 10 minutes or so. I seasoned the couscous only with a little salt and a squeeze of lemon. I wanted it to be plain tasting as a contrast to the fiery and warming spices.

Once the broth was ready, the flavor well rounded and the chicken nice and tender, I grabbed my soup bowl and went about presenting it nicely. I built a tower of couscous in the center of the plate and then distributed the chicken and vegetables around it. I then poured in the broth, garnished with some chopped Spring onions, Chili flakes and also a little ground Sumac. The soup was hearty, spicy and warming and did the trick this evening. And I am ready for bed now and hoping to be fit and well again for the morning... after all, I AM expecting you all for dinner!


  1. Look lovely, Francesco! I really do love couscous, but for some reason I never get around to making it. Not part of my culinary 'mental map', I guess. But now you've inspired me.

    1. I never used to make it until last year either Frank! I love the fact that it doesn't need to be cooked- just pour boiling water or stock onto it and let it sit for 5 minutes- and voila! I was surprised that so many people eat it in Sicily and have started using it more and more as a fast side dish... but even as a main course it is great... and then of course the salads... Give it a go! You will soon be hooked! Best wishes and thanks for writing! Francesco