North African couscous soup

North African couscous soup

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Similar to a traditional Moroccan harira, this soup is chock-full of nutty chickpeas and lamb, and thick with couscous. Throw in some fresh mint and parsley and serve it with warm Arabic flatbread and a big dollop of creamy 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 sea salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
400g can crushed tomatoes
1 green chilli, seeded, scraped and finely shredded
1 teaspoon honey
100g chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
800ml good-quality chicken stock
500ml water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g couscous
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 lemon, juiced


  1. Heat the olive oil and sauté the lamb pieces. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. 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. Add the tomatoes, chilli and honey.
  2. Stir well before adding the chickpeas, stock and water. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 45–60 minutes, or until the chickpeas are tender. When you are ready to serve, taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the couscous to the pot, cover and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley and mint and sprinkled with lemon juice.
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