Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
I’ve never been a fan of a big pile of quinoa on a plate as a substitute for rice or cous cous, so I’m always looking for tastier and more interesting ways to use it. Since it comes from South America, and given that I am obsessed with latin-american cuisine lately, Peruvian quinoa soup seemed like a winning option.
Traditionally made with lard, chicken stock, potatoes and onions, but highly adaptable, you can really put anything you like in it, so it’s very easy to veganise. My version uses corn for the sweetness and texture, and includes tomatoes for a more rounded flavour. I had actually intended to stir in some baby spinach and parsley at the end of cooking, but we were so hungry I completely forgot about it until we had almost finished. I think it would have worked really well though, so I would encourage this adaption. One ingredient that you really cannot change though, is the aji amarillo paste. It gives the soup most of its flavour, and is served with just about everything in Peru. It is a fairly mild chilli, but wonderfully fruity. It is available from South American grocers or online if you don’t have one near you.
This is a filling and satisfying soup and hearty enough for a main course. If you are planning on keeping leftovers for the next day, note that the quinoa will absorb all of the liquid overnight and you will end up with something more like quinoa risotto than soup. Just as delicious, but if you would like to avoid this you can cook the quinoa separately and combine them when you are ready to serve. I prefer to do it all in the one pot because the quinoa absorbs more flavour, and because it saves on time, dishes and effort.
While it may not be the prettiest meal, I assure you that what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavour (and nutrition). This is a favourite staple in our house.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa (I always used mixed)
3 cups Nicola or Desire potatoes, cut into 3cm cubes
kernels from 2 cobs corn
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 large brown onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp aji amarillo
1 tsp mushroom seasoning (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 avocados, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
extra aji amarillo paste
wedges of lime
fresh chopped parsley or coriander (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until browned. A bit of char is good for extra flavour
2. Add the corn and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the corn is bright yellow, approx two minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to deglaze the pot
3. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of the vegetable stock, oregano and paprika. Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 15-20 minutes
4. Add the quinoa and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Bring back up to the boil and reduce to a rapid simmer until the quinoa is cooked (it is cooked when it releases a ‘tail’ and is soft, but not mushy). Remove from the heat and stir through the aji amarillo paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve and top each bowl with 1/2 an avocado, some diced tomato, a good squeeze of lime juice, salt, pepper and a dollop of aji amarillo.