If it is a cold day, you might be thinking about a hot bowl of soup for dinner. Soup is always warm and inviting but you might want something just a little more substantial for your main meal of the day. Try taking some basic soup ingredients and turn them into an exotic tasting stew. Using a combination of herbs and spices, combined with vegetables and chicken thighs, you can take your taste buds on trip to Morocco.
This colorful stew was inspired by the spice markets of North Africa. It is so fragrant that your home will be filled with intoxicating aromas that will have you pacing in front of the stove waiting for the slow simmering stew to be ready to eat.
For this recipe, you will need four cups of chicken stock. If you don’t have homemade chicken stock, here is what you can do. Put one can of chicken broth and four cups of water in a large pot. Add a stalk of celery, a carrot, an onion, several cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, a sprig or two of fresh thyme and parsley, five or six peppercorns, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about thirty minutes until flavorful. Strain the broth and use in this or any recipe calling to chicken stock.
Moroccan Chicken Stew
- 4 c. chicken stock
- 6 chicken thighs (about 2 lb.)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- l large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 can, diced tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric or saffron
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- l Tbsp. or more lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
Bring the chicken stock to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the chicken thighs making sure they are completely covered with stock. Cover and poach for ten minutes. Take off the heat and let sit covered for an additional ten minutes. Remove the thighs and when cool enough to handle shred the meat into bite size chunks. Reserve the stock. Recipe can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.
Add the olive oil to a large pot, add the chopped onion and carrots and sauté until onions are soft. Add the garlic, herbs and seasonings and sauté for one minute. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas and simmer until the vegetable are just tender. Add the zucchini and chicken and simmer for five minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and taste. Add additional seasoning if necessary.
I serve this stew on top of steamed couscous that I mix with chopped fresh mint. Fresh cilantro would also be appropriate. On the side, I have little condiment bowls filled with chopped dried fruits and nuts.
Take my recipe and make it your own. Make it vegetarian by eliminating the chicken, using vegetable stock and additional vegetables. Make it more spicy by adding harissa (a Moroccan hot sauce). Experiment with the spices and herbs. I think this is one dish that you will enjoy and hopefully will make over and over.