Warm, tangy chicken couscous soup is an easy recipe that is perfect on cold winter days. It’s packed with comforting flavors and ingredients that help boost our immune system like ginger, turmeric, and lemon. The best part is that it’s ready in 30 minutes with very little prep and cleanup.
Not only is this lemon chicken couscous soup a healthy recipe, but it’s perfect on a rainy day, cold winter night, or anytime sickness strikes the house! Most of us think couscous to be a grain, but Israeli couscous is actually pasta. Let me tell you, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup has nothing on this, especially when you serve it with some crusty dutch oven bread!
Speaking of immune support, don’t forget to save this golden milk recipe for when you need it! Other hearty soups to try include Instant Pot chicken soup and Italian Wedding Soup. Thai Coconut Soup is another tangy soup, packed with flavor and nutrition!
- olive oil – to saute the veggies in; avocado oil or even a bit of butter would also work
- Veggies: yellow onion, celery, carrots – adds some flavor and helps to make this a healthy soup with a good dose of vegetables.
- Spices: garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, salt and black pepper – talk about a lot of flavor! This is what takes a chicken soup recipe to a whole new level! The lemongrass is optional, but we think it adds a nice touch (many supermarkets sell chunks of lemongrass with the herbs and my store has started carrying lemongrass paste with the other refrigerated tubes of herbs.) Garlic and ginger are both great for fighting cold season and have anti inflammatory properties.
- chicken breast – while we are going with boneless skinless chicken breast, tenderloins or boneless skinless chicken thighs could be used. The thighs do not have as much meat, so you may need a little more. Also, since it’s dark meat the taste may change slightly.
- chicken broth – homemade chicken stock can be used as well.
- pearl couscous – we use Israeli couscous. It’s larger than traditional couscous, so it gives the brothy soup more texture and helps to thicken it. Orzo pasta or acini di pepe would make great substitutes.
- Lemon juice – we are using freshly squeezed lemon juice, but store bought can be substituted if needed.
For a full list of ingredients and their measurements, 📋 please view my printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Fresh dill, grated parmesan cheese
Substitutions and Variations
- Low carb – skip the pasta and serve with cauliflower rice
- Rotisserie Chicken – if it’s flu season and you are down and out, use store-bought cooked chicken to speed the process up a little bit. Or use the leftovers from your herb-roasted chicken dinner.
- Swap the couscous – Some like switching things up, so you can easily use rice or egg noodles in place of the couscous. Orzo pasta or acini di pepe would be a very similar size and texture.
- Vegan/Vegetarian – omit the chicken and use vegetable broth instead of chicken.
- Homemade chicken stock – feel free to use what you have on hand. The main difference between broth and stock is that stock is made with bones while broth is made from veggies and meat and is typically thinner. Stock can be made by simmering down the bones for a longer period of time to make a richer, bone broth.
PREP: Chop all of the vegetables and prepare the ginger, turmeric, and garlic.
Step 1: Pour the olive oil into a large pot and heat over medium heat. Saute the onions and celery until they are soft.
Step 2: Stir in the ginger and garlic, while cooking for another couple of minutes.
Step 3: Add the carrots and chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Pour in the broth and add the lemongrass if you are using it.
Pro Tip: Lemongrass is great in this soup, but it still tastes delicious if you decide to omit it.
Step 5: Bring soup to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through.
Step 6: Once the chicken is cooked, remove and shred.
Step 7: Bring the soup up to a boil again, add the shredded chicken to the pot, along with the couscous, turmeric, and lemon juice. Cook for 10 more minutes or until the couscous is done.
SERVE: Remove the lemongrass and serve in your favorite soup bowl immediately.
Chicken Couscous Soup Recipe Tips
- This is the perfect soup when you want something quick, but also healthy that provides nourishment. It soothes the throat and helps open the sinuses.
- The combination of garlic, turmeric, and lemon gives an earthy and flavorful depth to the soup.
- Fresh ingredients are best, though frozen veggies will also work.
- Ginger can be stringy and hard to mince. I like to scrape it over a grater, which ends almost like a paste. Ginger paste can also be purchased in the grocery store. (Packaged garlic paste and lemongrass paste are also quickly becoming favorites to stock in my fridge.)
- Peel both the ginger and turmeric before grating using a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife.
- To cook with lemongrass, peel off the hard outer layer. Place the chunks on a cutting board and smash them with the side of a knife. Simmer them in the soup broth and then remove before serving.
While our culture often serves couscous as a savory meal, places like Libya and Egypt use it in desserts.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you want to freeze this soup, we recommend freezing just the base. The pasta may not thaw as well when reheated. Storing in individual servings is also a great way to freeze. You don’t have to worry about unthawing the entire batch if you don’t need it. Plus it reheats faster.
While most think it’s rice it’s actually pasta made from wheat flour and is often considered a healthy alternative because it’s less refined than most other kinds of pasta.
If you tried this Chicken Couscous Soup or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below.
Chicken Couscous Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 cup celery sliced (2-3 stalks)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 cup sliced carrots 2-3 medium carrots
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 1- inch sections of lemongrass optional
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup pearl couscous Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon grated turmeric
- Juice of 1 lemon 4 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Saute onion and celery until onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and ginger; cook 1-2 minutes more.
- Add carrots and chicken breast to the pot. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and then pour the chicken broth to cover the chicken. Add lemongrass to the pot if you are using.
- Bring soup to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through (~10 minutes for thin-sliced chicken breasts).
- When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot and shred with two forks.
- Bring the soup up to a boil once again. Return the chicken to the pot, add couscous, turmeric, and lemon juice. Cook 8-10 minutes more, until couscous is cooked through.
- Remove pieces of lemongrass.
- Serve immediately.