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Israeli Couscous Vegetable “Soup”

July 16, 2009

Tonight is closing in on the end of a pretty long week with weather that hasn’t been entirely pleasant. Luckily, I managed to throw together this tasty dish with Israeli couscous based on what we had leftover in the pantry and refrigerator. It was T-A-S-T-Y, as in.. YUM. The tomato-based liquid reduces nicely, giving a nice burst of flavor in each bite of the couscous, and the basil adds a very fresh finish. I am very proud of how this came out, and it wasn’t remotely difficult. I also am happy because I feel as if I’ve finally earned my “Israeli couscous” badge after a few not-so-great attempts. Serve alongside your favorite protein and salad, or just enjoy by itself in a bowl!

This is not actually a vegetarian recipe because of the chicken broth. If you’d like to make it so, feel free to swap in some vegetable broth or vegetable stock, making sure to adjust the seasoning at the end to compensate for the difference in flavors. The serrano chile in here brings a *very* small amount of heat, as it’s seeded and de-ribbed, but it could be omitted without too much of a loss in flavor.

Israeli Couscous Vegetable “Soup” (Serves 2-3):

  • 3-4 large carrots, cut into thin rounds, about 2/3 cup packed
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled, halved, sliced thinly and separated
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade, about 10-15 large leaves
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeded, de-ribbed, minced
  • 2 large or 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add carrot and onion and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes or until carrot is soft and onion is very stringy. It’s ok if the mixture turns a bit orange or brown.
  2. Add garlic and chile and stir continuously until fragrant and garlic starts to turn a light shade of brown, no more than 2 minutes. Do not let garlic burn.
  3. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and turn heat up to high, bringing to a boil.
  4. Once mixture is boiling, add couscous and very large pinches of salt and pepper. Cover and turn heat down to a simmer.
  5. Cook about 7-8 minutes, tasting occasionally to check couscous texture. It should be slightly firm to the bite but not raw tasting. Remove cover, stir in basil, and cook another 2-3 minutes to thicken sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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