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Time for another soup recipe – ahhh, it’s been awhile!  And to get inspired, I reached for one of my most cherished cookbooks, The South American Table, by Maria Baez Kijac.  How long had this treasure sat dormant and idle in my cookbook stash before I realized what gems lie in these pages?  Years!

I had a partially filled bag of organic quinoa sitting on my counter, pretty much screaming silently at me to cook more of it!  [Side note:  I absolutely adore Bob’s Red Mill products. I’ve got everything from corn meal, pearl barley, the quinoa and even xanthan gum; if you’re into gluten-free cooking you know what that is!] But man oh man I wish they came in resealable packaging!  I just don’t have enough canisters and the fold-and-seal-the-plastic-bag-with-scotch-tape method is far from foolproof.

Doesn’t it feel great when you have a well-stocked pantry and end up with very few items on your shopping list when you want to try a new recipe?  Ahhh, maybe I’m slowly turning a corner there.  But I always do that ol’ smell test on my spices before I head out the door just in case.  If they’re not pungent, out they go and it’s time for a new jar.  This is an absolute must!

OK, so let’s get to it – here’s the recipe!

Sopa de Quinua con Chancho (Quinoa soup with pork)  Serves 8 to 10
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground annatto or sweet paprika
  • 1/2 C chopped scallions (white part and 1″ of the green)
  • 1 C finely chopped leeks (white part and 1″ of the green), washed well
  • 1 medium-sized ripe but firm tomato (5-6 oz), peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 lb lean pork from the leg or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 6 C hot water
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 3/4 C raw quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 C unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts or natural peanut butter pureed with 1 C milk
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over low heat.  Stir in the annatto (or paprika), then add the scallions, leeks, tomato, garlic paste mixture and cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium and add the pork cubes.  Cook for a couple of minutes, tossing so they are well coated with the vegetable mixture.  Add the hot water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes, quinoa and peanut puree.  Partially cover and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add the peas, basil and cayenne and cook for a couple of minutes to heat the peas through.  Taste for salt and black pepper.

Serve hot, garnished with the parsley.

Fivenineteen notes:  I went truly organic with almost all of the ingredients in this recipe and headed out to the PCC Natural Market a short drive from my house to purchase the pork, frozen peas and fresh vegetables.  This is an organic grocery store co-op, and if you need high-quality specialty ingredients the nice people there will go above and beyond to find them for you.  I’m always fascinated by the products and the local, boutique-y brands.

As with lots of soup recipes, the chopping and prep work is the most time-consuming – but once you’re ready to rock it comes together quickly.  This was only a two pot meal, so not a lot of clean up.  Given the 45 minutes of simmering required, this is a perfect time to prepare the quinoa AND load the dishwasher!  I’m pretty anal about cleaning up as I go when I cook; I’ve been teased that sometimes it doesn’t even look like anyone’s been cooking when I’m done!

I chose not to seed the tomato and just chopped it up coarsely.  I was wondering if this would water down the soup too much because of the liquid-y tomato ‘meat,’ but it didn’t.  And I don’t understand the need to peel a tomato as this recipe calls for (and have no idea how to do it effectively – if anyone has a good method I’d love to hear from you). 

My eyes popped when I read the step about pureeing peanut butter with a cup of milk!  Wow, that’s a new one for soup…and in general!

Now, a few months ago I ranted about my small appliances kitchen battle.  My large Cuisinart food processor became useless as the lid would no longer latch onto the workbowl properly.  I ended up ordering a new lid and pusher assembly thingy online and last night was the time to test if it worked.  Thankfully, I’m occasionally pretty resourceful and I tested the food processor before putting the peanut butter and milk in it.

No dice.  Fuck! I STILL could not get the new lid (which has a slightly different type of plastic latch attached from the old one) to latch onto the damn workbowl!  I guess I should have ordered a replacement workbowl too.  If the parts don’t engage and lock perfectly, the appliance won’t run.  And I guess that’s a good thing for safety with those super sharp blades.  Grumble grumble…so now the nice people at Cuisinart will be sending me a new workbowl.  Now I’ve spent $100 on spare food processor parts, which is a little less than half the cost of a brand new one.  Will it be worth it?  Will the damn thing work again when the new bowl arrives?  Stay tuned.

Thankfully my smaller mini Cuisinart was large enough to puree the peanut butter and milk. 

Now, as I was getting underway heating the oil and paprika and adding the vegetables I glanced at the recipe again.  I’d plopped a beautiful tablespoon of paprika into the sauce pan and was mixing away…what a heavenly aroma…

…only to realize the recipe called for one TEASPOON of paprika, not a tablespoon.  And yep folks, there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.  Fuck again!!

At this point I just thought screw it, I’m not going to mess with trying to remove some of the paprika out.  I just went for it and added the rest of the ingredients – in the correct amounts.  Thankfully the paprika did not overwhelm the soup.  The other spices are a nice counterbalance.

Here’s the author’s introduction to the recipe: “This is one of the oldest soups made in South America, dating back to the time of the Inca Empire.  After the conquest, pork and seasonings were added to it.  It is absolutely superb – full of wonderful flavors and nutrition.”

And in my version, a nice dose of paprika! 

Buon appetito!

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