The week after Thanksgiving, I always end up craving simple, healthy, and light dinners. This usually brings soup to mind. Soup always leaves me satiated, but never stuffed to the point of no return. They also make the perfect meal on a cold and wintry day.
One of my goals this fall was to try lots of new and different soup recipes. I tend to resort to familiar favorites, like homemade vegetable minestrone and curried lentil soup, but the following recipe was entirely foreign to me, which was exactly what attracted me to it in the first place.
I found it in one of my favorite cookbooks, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, with the following description. I immediately became intrigued:
Light, utterly delicious, pretty, and fresh looking, this recipe stems from one in Chef Felipe’s Rojas-Lombardi’s book, The Art of South American Cooking, that I was draw to because I simply couldn’t imagine it. Now, one of my favorite dishes in any category, it makes a quick, wholesome meal” (pg. 230)
This soup was described perfectly. In fact, the ingredient list was exactly what attracted me to it in the first place. And don’t let the name fool you, while this resembles chowder in a textural way and incorporates potatoes, nothing else about it is traditional.
Just check out the ingredient list and you’ll immediately become intrigued!
Slightly Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
This “chowder” is extremely unique and multi-dimensional in flavor. The lightness of the quinoa, combined with potatoes makes it hearty, but light. The addition of jalapeno and cilantro add a touch of heat to every spoonful, which is cut perfectly by the feta cheese. Be sure not to skip the chopped hard-boiled egg garnish, it totally makes the dish and takes it over the top!
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed well (or substitute with white quinoa)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chili, de-ribbed and seeded, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3 cups baby spinach, finely sliced
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped (garnish)
- Measure and rinse quinoa in fine sieve (this removes the outer layer of quinoa, which is bitter and has a ‘soapy’ taste). Place rinsed quinoa and 2 quarts (8 cups) water in medium sized pot. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, begin to chop garlic, jalapeno, and potatoes.
- Once quinoa has simmered for 10 minutes, remove from heat and drain—saving the liquid that the quinoa has cooked in. The easiest way to do this is to place a fine sieve over a large soup pot. Once drained, pour water into the pot that cooked the quinoa. You can now use the large soup pot to start putting the rest of the chowder together.
Boil Egg for Garnish
- Place water and egg in small saucepan. Bring to boil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove egg from water, allow to come to room temperature, and peel.
Cooking the Chowder
- In large soup pot, heat up the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and jalapeno. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Add cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the chopped potatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan and making sure garlic does not brown.
- Add the drained quinoa water, half of the chopped scallions, and simmer until the potatoes are tender—about 15-20 minutes.
- Add cooked quinoa, spinach, and remaining scallions and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The soup will continue to thicken and come together.
- Meanwhile, chop hard-boiled egg and set aside for soup garnish.
- Turn the soup off the heat and stir in crumbled feta cheese and cilantro. Season.
- Serve soup, garnish with chopped hard-boiled egg. Enjoy!
Though I adapted a few ingredients in the original recipe, such as subbing out the white quinoa for red (which I find to be more flavorful and pleasing to the eye) and adjusting the amounts of other add-ins, Deborah Madison gets all the credit for this one. And rightly so, I have never been disappointed with a recipe out of her cookbook!
After making this dish, quinoa chowder has quickly risen to become one of my favorite soups. It is sure to leave your dinner guests talking too!
Serve it with a slice of crusty artisan bread and you have a great post-Thanksgiving Day meal for any night of the week. Plus, it does have one thing in common with Thanksgiving…it makes great leftovers.
Enjoy the weekend everyone!