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After yesterday’s amazing discovery of a Chilean fish soup I woke up today excited.  And motivated.  Grinning.  Sure it was (is) a sleepy, relaxed Memorial Day, but I felt compelled to do more soup cooking…and to uncover more treasures in this marvelous cookbook – The South American Table!

What did I have to lose?  The leftover fish soup was slowly getting devoured…I had two bowls of it last night (grin) and will likely have another tonight as well.  So deliciously satisfying…without that bloated feeling of “oh man, I ate WAY too much.”

I thought it would be fun to try a vegetarian soup from this cookbook.  While I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat every day – I just don’t think it’s necessary to do so.  I love trying different alternatives, although I tend to lapse into a pasta-and-pesto dinner habit when I’m not eating meat or too lazy to cook some.

I raved about this cookbook in my last post; there are 450 recipes – 26 of which are soups…and 9 of those are meatless (sopas sin carne)!  Wow!  I definitely have the gazpacho on my list for when the weather gets warmer.   Today this one stole my heart (and my taste buds) and was educational as well.  And, in my typical fashion, another driver to try out a new recipe is to use up something in my pantry or fridge that needs using up!  In this case it was eggs, milk and quinoa.

[Side note:  my version was not truly vegetarian as I opted to use chicken stock, but you can also substitute water or vegetable stock if you prefer]

Chupe de Quinua (Quinoa chowder).  Serves 4 

  • 2 T butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped (about 1 Cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 C boiling water or chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 C fresh or frozen peas, or shelled fava beans, blanched and peeled
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • minced fresh mint and cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 1 ripe but firm Hass avocado (optional), peeled, pitted and diced 1/4″ thick for garnish

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, without letting it color.  Stir in the garlic paste, cumin, paprika and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for 1 minute.  Add the water (or stock), quinoa and potatoes and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the milk, corn and peas and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the cheese and eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the eggs have set.

Serve hot, garnished with the mint and cilantro leaves and avocado, if using.

Fivenineteen notes:  Here’s the author’s delightful introduction to this recipe (she does this for each and every one…love it!)  ” Chowders are everyday items on the tables of the Andean Peoples.  These chowders can be as simple as a combination of squash, wheat or quinoa with potatoes, or they may also include meat or fish.  In Bolivia, beef or lamb is used as well as the dried potatoes called chuno or tunta. The basic seasoning is fairly standard in all the Andean countries, except that in Peru and Bolivia hot ground peppers are added to the sofrito.  (Sofrito is the universal South American seasoning. Its base is always onion, but can include, as it does here, garlic, hot peppers and other flavor elements.)  This is a GREAT soup for vegetarians.”

One of the challenges with this soup was timing.  I noticed that the recipe called for adding stock (or water) already boiling to the ingredients as they cooked, rather than adding it cold and bringing it to a boil.  In the interest of being efficient with time (and the number of pots to wash after cooking) I opted to cook the quinoa first, start the soup cooking in a separate pot and then wash the quinoa pan and boil the stock in it and let the quinoa drain in a colander in the sink.  Voila, only two pots to wash.

The flavors of this chowder were a lot milder than I expected.  Maybe it’s just my preference for spicier soups.  Then I realized I’d made about 50% more quinoa than the recipe called for – too funny!  I’d cooked 1 C dried quinoa, thinking it would make about 2 cups total and neglected to use a measuring cup – yikes.  Turns out 1 C dried quinoa is a little over 3 cups when it’s cooked.

Not to worry, as I’ll definitely add more spices to each serving as I savor the leftovers…it’s a lot easier to add more than try to “water down” a too-spicy meal.