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Cold-Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup

This is the best healthy chicken soup for when you’re feeling a little sniffly and achy. Or just need a big comfort food hug! Couscous chicken soup is loaded with health-supporting ingredients like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass, and its light and cheery flavor is comfort food at its best. (Now with Instant Pot instructions!) Updated August 2019

Cold-fighting Couscous Chicken Soup | Recipe at

I knew this winter was going to be a tough one when my annual, knock-down-drag-out cold arrived in October. I really hope that I’ve paid my cold dues for the season, but judging by the red-noses and saggy faces of folks schlepping around the grocery store, looking like death warmed over, cold season has arrived with claws extended.

I don’t care if there’s science behind it; I don’t care if it’s a placebo effect of memories from my youth, sipping healthy chicken soup when sick. Can chicken soup can really help cure a cold? {shrugs}

What I do know is that there’s just no better comfort food than chicken soup when you’re under the weather. It’s pure comfort and nourishment on a spoon!

A pot of Cold Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup

When you’re sick, the last thing you need is something store-bought and loaded with salt and weird preservatives. Fresh, homemade chicken soup is just the ticket!

This delicious couscous chicken soup includes health-supporting ingredients like:

  • ginger
  • garlic
  • lemongrass
  • turmeric
  • and a big squeeze of lemon

Ingredients for couscous chicken soup

Anti-inflammatory, nutrient-loaded, and wonderfully tasty, these amazing aromatics create a light and bright soup: Comforting and good for you! It’s absolutely a win-win, whether you’re sick or not.

These ingredients, especially the ginger, are what make this couscous chicken soup so special and delicious. Even if you’re not a big fan of ginger, I encourage you to try it here.

It’s the right amount to add a little citrusy zing to the soup without being spicy and noticeable.

Three bowls of Cold-Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup

I’m a big fan of pasta in my chicken soup (when I was young, it was chicken and stars), so I always add pearl couscous to my soup. Pearl couscous is the perfect size and texture for chicken soup, mostly because it’s far easier to keep on the spoon than noodles!

You know what I’m sayin’ — you don’t want to struggle with your soup and those long, splish-splashy noodles when you’re sick.

Use a little couscous for a brothy soup, as seen in the video at the top of this post, or a lot of couscous for a hearty stew, as in the photos (<< my favorite!). Good, good stuff.

Here’s what Pinterest users are saying about Cold-Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup:

“This is delicious! Definitely a keeper! I’ve made it Twice in 2 weeks!”
      ~ Laura

“I have made this many times. The lemon and lemongrass give it a kick that is wonderful.”
      ~ Emily

“Thank you for giving an Instant Pot version of the recipe! I loooooove this soup and just got an instant pot for Christmas! The soup turned out amazing; I’ll definitely make it again and again!”
      ~ Jessa

Cold-fighting couscous chicken soup in the Instant Pot!

Now with Instant Pot instructions!

This is one of the soups on this blog that I make all the time, summer and winter. And, being a fan of Instant Pot soups, I made sure to update this post to include directions for the pressure cooker — just in time for cold and flu season. I recommend a 6 qt Instant Pot (affiliate link).

If you’re printing the recipe, you’ll have both stove top and Instant Pot instructions on one page. Both methods are easy, so whichever you chose, you’re just minutes away from a satisfying bowl of soup.

Can you freeze couscous chicken soup?

This is the most frequently asked question I get. And the answer is: yes and no. The soup base freezes wonderfully. Pasta, however, does not hold up well in the thawing process.

Make the soup as directed, but don’t add the pasta. Let cool, and freeze this soup base. Then, at serving time, prepare the couscous separately while the soup reheats, and stir it in when everything is hot and ready to go.

Tip: if you’re in a hurry, or just can’t get yourself vertical long enough to cook up some pearl couscous, substitute instant rice. It might not be cool for a food blogger to admit, but, I do keep a certain brand’s pre-cooked microwaveable rice cups in my pantry, just for emergency situations, such as being too sick to cook! #keepingitreal

A pot of Cold Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup

So delicious, light, and healthy, couscous chicken soup is easy to make, too — you’re just a half hour away from a big fragrant pot of soup! Make lots, eat some, freeze some.

Winter is coming, and I’ll start soup season by making a big pot of the couscous chicken soup base, dividing it into individual servings, and stashing it in the freezer. I’m always so grateful to have this soup ready to add some fresh pasta to, for when a cold hits the house!

Stay healthy, everyone, and eat lots of healthy couscous chicken soup!

Karen xo

Cold Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup |
Print Recipe
4.91 from 55 votes

Cold-Fighting Couscous Chicken Soup

The very best cold-fighting couscous chicken soup, loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and garlic, to help you stay your healthiest this winter. Note: This recipe includes both stove top and Instant Pot instructions!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken soup
Servings: 4 generous servings
Calories: 288kcal
Author: Karen Gibson


  • 1 cup chopped onions about 1/2 of a medium
  • 3/4 cup sliced leeks about 1 medium, white and light green parts only
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots about 1 medium
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery about 2 ribs
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass or paste
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon chicken seasoning (optional)
  • 8 ounces cooked, shredded chicken (FOR STOVE TOP VERSION) (rotisserie chicken is great)
  • 3/4 pound raw chicken breasts (FOR INSTANT POT VERSION)
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Stove Top Directions:

  • Heat one tablespoon of the stock in a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium. When it begins to sizzle, add the onions, leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, and heat until aromatic. Sprinkle the turmeric over the vegetables and stir.
  • Add the stock, chicken, and couscous, and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer; cook for 15 minutes. Squeeze the half lemon into the soup, taste, and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Top with parsley before serving.

Instant Pot Directions:

  • Turn on the Saute function on your IP. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, leeks, celery, and carrots, and saute until all are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, and heat through until fragrant. Sprinkle the turmeric over the vegetables and stir. Turn off the unit.
  • Add the chicken broth, Better Than Bouillon (if using), and couscous. Lay the chicken breasts in the pot.
  • Secure the lid and make sure the valve is set to Sealing. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure, for 5 minutes. When the cooking is finish, allow to naturally release for 7 minutes, then carefully quick release the remaining pressure.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred with two forks (or chop). Return the chicken to the soup. Squeeze the lemon over the soup (taking care to catch the seeds), and add the parsley. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to your liking.



Calories: 288kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

Cold-fighting couscous chicken soup

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Recipe Rating


Thursday 16th of April 2020

Hi! I am really excited to try this soup tonight. I just wanted to know if the couscous you are asking for it is measured cooked or dry. Thank you!


Thursday 16th of April 2020

Hi! It's measured dry. I hope you enjoy the soup!


Thursday 2nd of April 2020

This soup is a slam-dunk in my house, loved by myself, hubby, teenager, and toddler! I make it about once a week, double or triple the recipe, and it’s always gone in 2 days. This is a serious #momwin recipe that keeps us all happy and healthy!

Liat a

Sunday 10th of November 2019

I’ve made this recipe several times with a few adjustments that have worked well for me. I make the couscous as per the directions on the box And add it to each bowl when serving. I’ve found that cooking the couscous directly in the broth and veggies makes storage a little tricky as the couscous continues to absorb the liquids. I also cook the chicken a bit differently than stated in the recipe. I use chicken drumsticks lightly coated in olive oil salt and pepper and cook them on a baking sheet at 425F for 35 minutes. Like with the couscous, I add the chicken to individual bowls before serving and store leftovers separate from the soup. I also triple the turmeric, double the carrots, and add a pinch of cayenne. Love this recipe! My go to when I’m starting to feel under the weather.


Tuesday 5th of November 2019

This is one of my all-time favorite chicken soup recipes! Making it the second time in the course of a week (tho I’ve made it before). I love that it is chock full of cold-fighters!! Lemongrass, Garlic, ginger, turmeric!! Kids love too!


Tuesday 5th of November 2019

I will say that I added more stock/can’t believe it’s not bullion because my couscous soaked up so much of the liquid & we like broth!!! Went generous on the tasty stuff (heaping spoons of garlic/ginger) yummy!!!


Monday 4th of November 2019

This was so delicious! Hearty like a stew but light and refreshing because of the citrus bites in the spices! Such a fan! Thank you!