Moroccan Orzo Soup

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This Moroccan orzo soup recipe traditionally uses Berkoukech aka Mhamsa in Morocco and North Africa. Mhamsa is traditionally a hand rolled large couscous made from durum wheat semolina that looks similar to pearl pasta. It is not very commonly found outside of Morocco so we started using orzo to replace it. I think this is the type of recipe that doesn’t get shared very often because it’s the type of comfort food you get at your mums or grandma’s house. The tiny pasta is cooked in a herby tomato sauce that is enriched with the flavour of Moroccan spiced lamb, chicken or beef tagine stock. In this recipe we will be using chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large chicken breast (cubed small)
  • 1 onion, (chopped small)
  • 2 garlics (grated or minced)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 saffron strands
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, (chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 pint water mixed with 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp tomato puree paste
  • 1x 400g pack orzo pasta

Instructions

  1. Sauté the chicken & onion. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and chopped onion then sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the chicken pieces begin to brown and tenderize. (About 10-15 minutes.)
  2. Season. Add the herbs and chopped tomato and stir before adding the salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, and parsley and mix to combine it all together.
  3. Add the stock. When the tomatoes have melted down into the herbs and spices, add 1 pint of water with 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube, stir in 1 tsp tomato puree paste and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook the orzo. When the liquid is boiling add the orzo and lower the heat to medium low. Cook the orzo on a low heat while stirring regularly until the pasta is just nearly done then take off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and allow the orzo to finish cooking while absorbing the sauce. It will take about 10 minutes for the orzo to cook until just under done. 
  5. Adjust the consistency. After about 5 minutes the orzo would have finished cooking while absorbing in the sauce, this will thicken the consistency and you may need to adjust it to your preference with some more water. Note: when you add more water, adjust the salt and seasoning to taste as well.
  6. Serve. Serve the Moroccan Orzo Soup in bowls while it’s hot and enjoy!

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