Silicon Valley can’t decide whether it’s winter or spring, so while we suffer through another stretch of rain–during spring break, no less!–I’ve got a delicious and healthy meal for you to cozy up with: Moroccan Chicken Lentil Soup.
I’ve been on Pinterest quite a bit lately as part of my job as a blogging assistant (had a mentioned this yet? I help bloggers with SEO for their sites, and other tasks such as Pinterest) and a couple things have stood out quite a bit to me: Moroccan flavors and lentils. I guess they are big right now.
Or maybe they’re just showing up for me because I pinned a recipe one time and now Pinterest is showing me all the related things. Could be that.
Regardless, they targeted me correctly, because Moroccan caught my attention. Curious about these dishes, I browsed a few of the recipes and was happy to see that the flavors of Morocco are a combination of spices I already have: curry, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom. I noted in my mind to try making a Moroccan-spiced dish sometime soon.
Since I don’t meal plan, I soon came to a typical day when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner with ingredients we have on hand. This tends to lead me to the same old things and, wanting to try something different, I threw together my own Moroccan soup from what I recalled of the ingredients. The result was delicious and I’m happy to share it with you today.
You could easily make this vegan by using vegetable broth, skipping the chicken and adding the seasonings after sautéing the celery, onions and carrots.
Don’t be afraid to use the celery leaves!
Two things that I like to keep on hand for cooking ease: a tube of ginger paste and a tube of tomato paste. I use such a little bit of ginger and tomato paste at a time, that when I buy fresh ginger or a can of tomato paste, the rest goes to waste. It’s less wasteful to have these around and just use the amount that I need, then keep it in the fridge. Plus, it saves me the step of mincing ginger.
Here’s the recipe so you can give this moroccan soup a try yourself! I don’t measure my spices, so just sprinkle them on the chicken. Use the cinnamon and cardamom sparingly–a light dusting goes a long way!
Moroccan Chicken Lentil Soup Recipe
1lb chicken breasts or thighs
extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch celery, diced
4 large carrots, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock + 2 additional cups (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste
Seasonings to taste:
Optional: cayenne pepper, cilantro
Heat large pot over medium heat and add a hefty drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle chicken with all spices, except turmeric. *Remember: cardamom is quite strong. Use that and cinnamon sparingly. You can always add more later.
Add chicken to hot (but not smoking!) olive oil and brown on both sides. Make sure it’s good and brown so that there are bits left on the bottom of the pan (see pic below).
Remove to plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
Sauté celery, onions, bell pepper and carrots until onions are translucent (you can add more olive oil if needed), scraping up the browned bits stuck to the pan as you go.
Add minced ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant.
Sprinkle on turmeric (I also don’t measure this, but give everything a good coating).
Add 1/2 cup red lentils and sauté for a minute (use more if you are going vegetarian).
Add 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and tomato paste.
Return the chicken and its juices to the pot.
Boil, cover and reduce to a simmer until done, about 20-25 minutes, or for a few hours. The longer it cooks, the easier the chicken is to shred.
Shred chicken with forks.
Add more broth or water to thin the soup if you prefer.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cayenne pepper and cilantro, if desired.
This recipe is flexible and the great thing about soup is you can add whatever you want to it, really. Don’t have a red bell pepper? No big deal, just leave it out. Got some spinach or other leafy greens? Great–tear it up and add it too the soup for an extra boost of nutrients.
I hope you like it! Please let me know what you think if you give it a try!
Here’s another soup recipe to warm you up: Leek Cauliflower Soup