So I know good ole Punxsutawney Phil has declared that Winter is on the way out and Spring is right around the corner. However, Spring hasn’t yet stepped out in this neck of the woods. It has been damp, cold and really pretty dreary recently. In fact, today it is actually snowing. Soup weather without a doubt and I have a great recipe for a soup which is not only flavorful and warming, but also pretty fun as well – Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup. This is definitely one of the Husband’s favorite soups. He LOVES meatball anything…cocktail meatballs, meatball subs, spaghetti & meatballs and on the rare occasion that we have ventured into an IKEA, you can rest assured that you’ll find him in the cafeteria sampling those Swedish Meatballs. So when I came across this recipe, I knew it would be a winner with him. This soup features mini meatballs which are chock full of Moroccan spices and Israeli Couscous in a chicken broth base. The meatballs are baked prior to going into the soup which helps them retain their shape. I prefer ground beef for my meatballs, though the original recipe calls for lamb. So if you are a fan of lamb, feel free to go with the original recipe. Either way, these Moroccan spiced meatballs are quite tasty!
The Israeli Couscous adds a wonderful nutty flavor as well as a lovely texture to the soup. If you’ve never tried Israeli Couscous before, now is the time! It is really delicious. Similar to Moroccan couscous, this toasted pasta is much bigger and is shaped like little balls. This couscous works perfectly in soups because it retains its shape well and tends to not clump together. Though I will say, this soup does thicken if you have leftovers saved in the fridge. Before reheating, just add few glugs of chicken broth to it and it will be good as new! Quick and easy to make, you’ll have this soup on the table in no time flat. Serve it up with a big loaf of rustic, crusty bread and this comforting soup will make you forget all about the crappy weather outside. And don’t despair, I have great faith that our beloved weather predicting rodent was correct…Spring is on the way!
Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup
recipe from: Williams Sonoma
For the Meatballs:
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- the leaves from 4 -5 fresh sprigs of thyme (leaves only – no stems! You can substitute 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, but I think the fresh thyme is better if you have it.)
- 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp. chili powder
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. (500 g) ground beef (can substitute lamb in if you want to be a tad more authentic)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
For the soup:
- 1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml) water
- 1 cup (6 oz./185 g) Israeli couscous
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional – but we like it spicy!)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint (I do not actually use the mint when I make this dish)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To make the meatballs, preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, curry powder, oregano, thyme, mustard, chili powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the ground beef and tomato paste. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. For each meatball, scoop up 1 tsp. of the mixture. I use a small cookie scoop to do this. It makes it a bit easier and all of your meatballs are similar in size. You should end up with around 40 meatballs. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the meatballs and couscous and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mint (If you are using it) and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately.
Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup
Chef’n Zipstrip Herb Stripper – Fantastic tool for stripping herb leaves from their woody stems!
Israeli Couscous, Tri-Color – This link is for the tri-color couscous. Of course you do not have to use tri-color, you can use regular or even whole wheat if you wish. I just like the look of the tri-color style.