It’s winter here, and the thing I seem to want most is warm comfort food. Pasta bakes, shepherds pie, toasted sandwiches…..you get the gist. Soups are amazing in this weather, because they heat you right up. Crema de Zapallo (squash soup) is one of my favourites, but I also love quinoa soup. Warming, full of flavour, and very, very good for you. It contains soft fluffy quinoa, a rainbow of vegetables, a little bit of chilli, and a good broth. This dish used to either warm us up at night on the Inca Trail or keep us going during the day. It is eaten a lot by Peruvians during the cold nights in the Andes.
Dependent on how you like the taste of your soup is dependent on how you make your broth. I like to add half a chicken stock cube to my water to kick up the flavour, but you could always use half a vegetable one, or even none at all, and have the all-natural flavours of the vegetables in your soup to be the basis of your broth. Also, feel free to play around with the veggies. Use whatever you have in the fridge, or whatever happens to be in season. Use pumpkin instead of squash, or maybe add some courgettes.
Remember, it’s really important to wash your quinoa thoroughly, as it gets rid of the bitter tasting coating. I find rinsing it through a fine mesh sieve works really well.
I know it’s summer in the northern hemisphere right now and all you want are BBQs and ice lollies, but I know as soon as the sun disappears, this soup is going to be exactly what you need. Use up those veggies you have lying around from your BBQ salads and boil them up! Mine ended up looking like summer in a bowl.
// vegetable oil //
// 1 large onion, half diced and half in strips // red or white is fine, but I used red.
// 2 tsp minced garlic //
// 1 tsp of aji amarillo (yellow chilli), washed, deseeded thoroughly, washed again, and finely chopped // washing again once deseeded helps to reduce the heat further. If you can’t get hold of aji amarillo, use a chilli of your choice.
// 12 cups (3 litres) boiling water // it took me about 2 kettles filled with water.
// 1/2 a chicken stock cube //
// 2 large tomatoes, washed, deseeded and cut into bite size chunks //
// 1 large carrot, washed, peeled and cut into bite size chunks //
// 1 large pepper, washed, deseeded and cut into strips //
// 3/4 cup of quinoa thoroughly rinsed in water and drained //
// 2 cups of bite size chunks of squash //
// salt and pepper to season //
Take out a large saucepan (this will be the pan you use for the whole recipe) and heat some oil on a medium heat. Fry the onion first for a few minutes and then add the garlic and chilli. Cook for a further few minutes, until the onion has softened slightly and the garlic and chilli have released their flavours.
Mix the 1/2 stock cube with one cup of the boiling water, until the cube has completely disintegrated. Pour this mixture into the pan, followed by the remaining 11 cups of boiling water. Stir the onion, chilli and garlic around in the water and wait for the water to boil in the pan.
Once bubbling, add the tomato, carrot and pepper to the water and place a lid on the pan. Allow to boil for 10 minutes, and then add the squash and quinoa to the pot. Give everything a stir.
Leaving the lid on, boil for a further 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the quinoa is cooked through. The quinoa grains will look a little larger cooked, and they will have tiny tendrils poking out that will curl around themselves.
You can choose now to season the whole pan, or season each bowl of soup separately. Eat with a crusty roll to soak up those juices!