Monday, January 10, 2011

If It's Monday It Must Be Soup: Quinoa Chowder

When I was young Mom knew what foods she'd serve for dinner every week. Monday we might have meatloaf and Tuesday we could expect spaghetti with meatloaf leftovers in the sauce. As a budget conscious cook, she planned for leftovers. I'm planning for soup nights which automatically means leftovers for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

My New Year's resolution got a boost today when I read this post from Lifehacker about how to scaffold your resolutions for lasting change. I've got a set budget and a concrete plan and I may not eat soup twice a week for eternity, but I'm so excited by the possibilities of my food budget soup plan. I'm so excited that if I wasn't doing it, I'd be following the blogger who was to see if that's what works for slashing food budgets.

My only worry is, will I still be hungry for soup come summer? Right now, I'm confident there are enough soup recipes and ideas for main dish soups in the world to keep me going, and by the end of the year, I should have enough recipes for a book.

I've decided to make Mondays the new recipe day of the week and the recipe this week is partly influenced by what I found at the market and partly by this soup article about South American soups that I'm supposed to be writing for Vegetarian Journal.

I found some great spinach at Willie Green's Organic Farm and of course Nash's sweet carrots--I absolutely love them right now and my Cooking Assistant is very excited about them, too.
I had one lonely sweet potato from Ayer's Creek still in my pantry, and I needed to test a recipe derived from a Peruvian soup, so I took a bag of quinoa from my pantry. I'd had never used quinoa in a soup before, and I've got to say, the texture and flavor is amazing. I could easily eat this soup for breakfast lunch or supper.

The original recipe also listed milk, but I added a can of coconut milk and how can you go wrong with coconut milk?

Another bonus is this soup is ready within a half an hour.

Quinoa Chowder
(Serves 6)
This soup has an amazing flavor, but remember leftovers need extra liquid added for the next day. This version isn't exactly authentic Peruvian fare because adding and adapting makes soup more fun. Instead of sundried tomatoes, I used roasted, frozen and thawed tomatoes from Ayers Creek Farm. These are so good and are disappearing so fast, I plan to preserve tomatoes like this again. The red currants were my idea; I don't know they whether currants grow currants in Peru and originally I thought I could use them as a lemon substitute. Now I'm just tossing them into various recipes and they really add character. Many people don't have them, so let this be a reminder--get some currants from your favorite berry or fruit farmer this summer at the market. Stash these treasures in your freezer and use them in soups like this one.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well 1 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's Peppers, or chopped jalapeno (optional)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 medium carrots or 1 of Nash's Best Organic carrots (above), chopped
1 sweet potato or 2 potatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
4 to 6 cups water
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
3 cups seasonal greens, rinsed and chopped
1 cup frozen red currants (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Heat oil in a stock pot. Add onions, cook and stir until onions soften. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in quinoa, then add Mama Lil's peppers, carrots, sweet potato, oregano, tomatoes and 4 cups water.

2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and currants and continue to cook until currants are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste; garnish with cilantro. Serve it with some warm corn tortillas.

So sad, Cooking Assistant missed the boat for this photo.


The Veggie Queen said...

This sounds like a most delicious soup. We have to cook together one day, somewhere.
Maybe we can do a cooking retreat somewhere.
I love your new recipe a week. Great stuff.

ddzeller said...

I'd love to do a cooking retreat sometime. The "Soup Porject" will require lots of inspiration this year, so I'll be checking your blog and FB posts for new recipes because you have fabulous ideas Jill.

Anonymous said...

Is there quinoa in the quinoa chowder?

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Sorry about that 1 cup of quinoa and it's added early in the recipe.