The first time I made this Moroccan chicken and lentil soup it was “surprise soup.” It was a cold day, and I looked around in my kitchen, saw lentils, chicken, and carrots, and thought, there must be a soup in here someplace! So, I started paging through my cookbooks. I found a recipe for harira, which is a Moroccan lentil and lamb soup, in The Book of Jewish Food (a wonderful cookbook which is part recipes and part travelogue). I didn’t have the lamb, but I figured I could adjust it and use chicken instead.
Incidentally, if you don’t have lentils, white beans will work just fine. Either dried or from a can is OK. I have used both, and both are delicious.
The advantage with lentils is you don’t have to soak them! If you want to go with beans, try my quick soak method to speed up the process.
By the way, the leaves on top of the soup are fresh ginger from my windowsill garden (just for a splash of color). They add lots of flavor too. All I did was plant some roots that were sprouting.
Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup
Moroccan inspired chicken soup with beans and vegetables.
2 hours, 15 minutes
2 hours, 25 minutes
You can substitute lamb and lentils for the chicken and beans, or switch the pasts with rice.
- 3 T canola oil
- 1 lb. chicken thighs (about 3 or 4)
- 4 cups water
- 3/4 C lentils
- 1 large onion, chopped
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
- pinch ginger
- pinch turmeric or saffron
- 1//4 C flour
- 2 oz. thin noodles, like vermicelli or angel hair, broken in quarters
- 1/2 tsp dried coriander
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Heat 1 T of the canola (or other neutral oil) in a large pot Add the chicken pieces and brown, turning occasionally, for five minutes.
- Add the water, and bring the pot to a boil. Remove any scum that rises to the top.
- Now add the lentils to the pot.
- In a separate frying pan, cook the onions in the oil until they brown.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper and bring it to a simmer, cooking about 1 1/2 hours.
- Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, ginger and turmeric. If the soup boils down too much and gets too thick, add more water to bring it to the right consistency.
- Mix the flour with a bit of cold water, to make a paste. Add the flour paste to the soup, stirring so it doesn't clump together. It should thicken the soup and make it "velvety. (think velveting chicken in Chinese cooking). Now add the pasta and simmer it another 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Add the coriander and the lemon juice.
- If you used bone-in thighs (and you should for more flavor), let the soup cool for a minute or two and pull out the bones.
- Pour the soup into bowls and serve, or package into individual portions and freeze.
Tools and Ingredients for this Recipe
Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Cookware, Dutch Oven, 5-quart
I have a similar pot in a smaller size, but I really lust after the bigger one. Mine also doesn’t have the built-in strainer (which seems very handy). It does have the glass lid, which is great because I can easily see how close the food is to boiling without lifting the lid and getting a face full of steam. It’s great for soup or chili or a big pot of pasta when company is coming.
Frontier Turmeric Root Ground, 1.92-Ounce Bottle
Turmeric is related to ginger and has a warm, peppery flavor. Like ginger, it can be savory or sweet, and can be used in both dinner and dessert recipes. It’s great in soups, on chicken, lamb, or mixed in with scrambled eggs. It’s also an anti-inflammatory.
More Lentil Soup Recipes
Easy Ham and Lentil Soup for One Person
Just one pot required for a warm, comforting soup. Packed with lentils, carrots, and smoky ham for lots of flavor.
Lentil Bean Sausage Soup
Another way to use lentils, this time with beans and sausage. Just the thing for a chilly, winter day.
Mulligatawny Soup Recipe
Fusion food! This soup is Britain meets India. The UK brought the meat and the Tamils contributed the spice. Note this is usually made with red lentils, but rice works too.
Lamb and Lentil Soup Recipe
Lamb and lentils pair beautifully together. This soup is low-simmered on the stove (go do something else while it cooks and your kitchen becomes fragrant with tomatoes, lamb, and thyme).