Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quinoa Soup with Spinach and Corn

This soup is one of our favorite recent recipe discoveries. I’m happy to say that it came in its original form from another food blogger I recently discovered. I have been enjoying Nicole’s blog, Cucina Nicolina, and this soup attests to her culinary sensibility (I love fawning over other food blogs--you guys are endlessly inspiring!).

You know quinoa is good for you, right? It’s an ancient grain, a superfood, a complete protein and all that jazz. But none of that would be any comfort at all if the stuff wasn’t so delicious. I’ve been making steamed quinoa for a couple years now as a side dish, usually a pilaf. This is always very good, but I’ve never enjoyed quinoa as much as I do in this soup.

This recipe is for a very big batch, and I don’t recommend scaling it down. Not because you can’t, but because you’ll want a lot of this soup to eat for lunch, for a quick leftover dinner, whatever. A lot of liquid is required here because quinoa is like a sponge that never tires of soaking up anything in its wake. You’ll notice the soup continue to get thicker in the days after you make it. Just add a bit more liquid to get the consistency you want, or eat as is and enjoy the luxurious thickness.

The first time I cooked this soup, I thought it would need something more to add richness and substance, so we topped it with poached eggs. While this is really delicious and is vital to other soups such as this one, you just don’t need it to make the quinoa soup complete. The particular quality of starchiness in the quinoa thickens and enriches the broth enough on its own.

I know I’ve written about nothing else in this post but soup, so I’ll try to wrap it up quickly. Mike and I LOVE it. We’re not vegetarians, certainly not vegans, but we couldn’t ask for more than a bowl of this. Try it with the Honey Spelt Bread in the previous post. And by the way, it’s done from start to finish in under 30 minutes, and that’s if you’re fairly lazy about it.

Quinoa Soup with Spinach and Corn
Adapted from this recipe at Cucina Nicolina
I prefer chicken broth (especially Swanson’s low-sodium or Whole Foods regular), but you can certainly use vegetable broth if necessary. This soup is easy to play with, so add any dried or fresh herbs, or seasonings that sound good. If you really want to speed up the process, you could cook the mushrooms in a separate skillet while the quinoa is simmering.

Serves 7-8

2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (use white, Portobello, or a combination)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large red or white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups quinoa
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups frozen or fresh corn
12-14 oz. spinach leaves
2 tbs. soy sauce

Heat 1 tbs. of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the water they release nearly evaporates, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until lightly browned and soft. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pot and heat to medium. Add the onions, season and cook until soft and browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes more and add the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then add the quinoa. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and add the water and corn and return to a simmer. Add the spinach leaves a few handfuls at a time. Add the reserved mushrooms and soy sauce. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve as is, or with a poached egg on top.


Crockpot Lady said...

ooh, I want to try this!


Lys said...

I'm intrigued.. Thanks for posting!

nicole said...

SO glad you love the quinoa, too. I think I must make this soup this week ... :) Hope you're doing well!

Lydia said...

I always have quinoa in the pantry, so I'm all set to try this soup. It really does take a lot of liquid, doesn't it?!

rachel said...

This looks great. I purchased some Quinoa some time ago but have not made anything yet. A nice hearty soup seems like a great way to use it. Thanks!

Tartelette said...

After the holidays,this is exactly the kind of dish I crave and I am on a soup kick lately...brilliant!

Mandy said...

I must admit that I have never tried quinoa before, but your description made me want to have a bowl of the quinoa soup now!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think you've got me with this one. Love that it comes with spinach and the poached egg thing is now our bonus when we have soup.
Really sounds wonderful Julie.

(another) Julie said...

Quinoa is one of those things I'd like to eat more of so I'm happy to hear of any good ways to use it, especially any way that comes with such a ringing endorsement.

Julie said...

Quinoa really is one of those foods that everyone seems to love! I've had a bunch of people tell me both in the comments, conversations and emails that they love to eat quinoa. What's not to like, I guess:)
Lydia: It really does take a lot of liquid, but it works. Despite what I bossily said in the post, you can actually cut the recipe in half with no trouble! A version with one cup of quinoa would serve 4 people generously.
Tanna: I don't know what I did before I discovered poached eggs in soup. It's better than adding cream, in my opinion.
Julie: I know I sounded crazy-enthusiastic about this recipe, but i really do like it that much!

Robin said...

I made this soup last night exactly as the recipe said, using homemade chicken broth, without the poached egg.

It is absolutely delicious. I am so glad I didn't half the recipe-I can't wait for lunch today.

Easy, delicious, satisfying, healthy.

Julie said...

Robin: I'm so glad you like it...yay! My sister in law told me she made it too and loved it. This is one recipe I do feel evangelical about. With homemade broth...incredible. I've come to the conclusion that a poached egg is totally unnecessary...I'd rather have a slice of good bread.

terri said...

I made this for the first time yesterday...and brought it to a Soup Festival at my daughter's school. It disappeared so quickly! I have to make another batch for just us at home, no sharing this time.

Julie said...

Terri: I'm thrilled to hear that it was a big hit! Thanks for your comment.

The Yungs said...

Yum - this is fantastic. We added leftover carrot & broccoli, along with 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 beef stock since I didn't have enough of one or the other. What a great way to use up left over veggies, fresh or frozen!

Ashley said...

I'm going to try this tonight with ground turkey. Can't wait to taste it!