North African couscous soup

North African couscous soup

William Meppem

Similar to a traditional Moroccan harira, this soup is chock-full of nutty chickpeas and meaty lamb, and thick with couscous. Throw over handfuls of fresh mint and parsley and serve it with flat Arabic bread and a big dollop of creamy, soothing yoghurt for a filling winter lunch.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml olive oil
250g lamb leg steak, cut into small chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 green chilli, de-seeded, scraped and finely shredded
1 teaspoon honey
100g chickpeas, soaked overnight
800ml chicken stock
500ml water
salt and pepper
50g couscous
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced


  1. Heat the olive oil and sauté the lamb pieces. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Add the onion and cook over a gentle heat until soft. Then add the garlic, coriander, cumin, allspice, chilli powder and paprika, and mix well with the onion. Cook for a further 2 minutes and then return the lamb to the pan. Next add the tomatoes, chilli and honey.
  2. Stir well before adding the chickpeas, water and stock. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 45–60 minutes, or until the chickpeas are tender.
  3. When you are ready to serve, taste and adjust seasoning. Add the couscous to the pot, cover and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve garnished with the parsley, mint and lemon juice, a dollop of thick yoghurt (optional) and plenty of warm Arabic bread.
Middle East
Middle Eastern
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