Wife Jan has started on the Noom diet, which is very into soups. While there is nothing really restricted on this diet, the trick here is to fill you up with water rather than fattening meats and starches. Today, she suggested that I make their Moroccan chicken soup.
I immediately had a problem with the Noom recipe. Their main spicing for this dish was curry powder with added chili and cinnamon—which would make the dish more Indian, rather than Moroccan. The iconic spice blend to make something “Moroccan” is Ras el Hanout—which means “head of the shop,” and each Moroccan shop owner has their own unique mix, the best spice mix their shop can provide. Some blends have as few as ten ingredients, but others are said to have as many as fifty to one hundred spices. I have also made several other tweaks—like adding red onion and apricots, which are classic Moroccan additions.
Karl’s Moroccan Chicken Soup
2 Tbs. ghee, butter, or olive oil
½ cup red onion, diced
Pinch Kosher salt
½ lb. chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. Ras el Hanout
1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and diced
1 large carrot, shredded
32 oz. chicken broth, low sodium
1 Tbs. Better than Bouillon, Roasted Chicken Base, low sodium
2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
10 dried apricots, quartered
15.5 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup couscous
4 oz. baby arugula
1. Prepare all of your ingredients—rinse, chop, measure as needed and set everything aside until needed.
Tip: Once you start cooking you do not want to scurry around trying to prep that last ingredient.
2. Melt the ghee in a large soup pot, over a medium high heat, and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt until they are just starting to pick up some color.
Tip: Red onions are a common ingredient in North African cuisines, but do not over-brown them—they become “jam-y” and overly sweet if cooked too long.
Note: Do not use too much salt while cooking the onions. While the salt speeds up the browning of the onions the Better than Bouillon paste that you will be adding later is very salty—even the low sodium version. It is easy to add more salt—if necessary—at the end of the cooking time, but it is hard to take it out if your dish ends up too salty.
3. Pull the onions to the sides of the pot and add the chicken pieces.
Tip: Push the chicken into a single layer and leave them undisturbed for the first few minutes to brown on the bottom.
4. Mix the chicken and onions together and deglaze the pot with a little broth or water.
5. Pull the chicken and onions to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
6. Sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant and then add the tomato paste to the garlic.
7. Cook the tomato paste, stirring constantly, until it starts to darken—about 2 minutes.
8. Add the spice blend to the garlic/tomato paste mixture and continue cooking for another minute.
Tip: This “blooms” the flavor of the spices.
9. Add the carrots and tomatoes to the pot and deglaze the bottom of the pot with the tomato juice—mixing the ingredients in the pot together.
10. Stir in the chicken broth, the bouillon paste, ginger, apricots, and garbanzo beans.
11. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the soup for 10-15 minutes.
12. Stir in the couscous and arugula and turn off the heat.
13. Cover the pot and let it stand for five minutes to cook the pasta and wilt the arugula.
Tip: Re-stir the pot after the first minute—the pasta will tend to sink to the bottom of the pot might become a lumpy mass if not agitated before it is cooked.
14. Serve warm and enjoy.