This is a hearty soup that manages to taste light, but you will find it very filling indeed -- partly, I think, because of the quinoa, a seed grown high in the Andes and indigenous to Peru that is full of protein and high in fiber. Also, the sweet potatoes and white beans add fiber, color, and thickness to the broth. This is based on a traditional Peruvian recipe (usually made with fava beans and pumpkin, though I had to make my own substitutions here), and served high in the mountains, as well as at street-side cafés in Lima. You can add more pasilla peppers to it if you prefer it with more zing, or extra quinoa to serve a bigger crowd. This is a soup that stands on its own, at least in my opinion, though my Peruvian hubby does like to have rice on the side! My husband says that the potatoes commonly used in this dish are golden yellow and starchy, but if you cannot find them, russets will do just fine. This soup can also be made vegetarian by using smoked tempeh, smoky dofu or simply more quinoa. —BeijingRose
large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
quinoa (organic is best)
onion, sliced thin
carrots, skinned and sliced into chunks
russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
sweet potato, peeled and cubed
stalk celery, cubed
can white (navy) beans, drained
dried red pasilla pepper, sliced (or any smoked red pepper)
Wash the chicken breasts in cold water, then place in a pot with 4 to 5 quarts of water, 3 bay leaves, salt, and a dried, smoked red pepper (sliced). Cover, bring to a boil, and cook for half hour or so, until tender. Take out chicken, cut into large cubes, and return to the pot.
Peel and cube the potaotoes, slice the onions, cut the celery and carrots in pieces, and add them all to the broth with the chicken. Add the garlic and spices.
Bring the soup back to a boil and let it simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then add the quinoa, cover, and cook over medium heat for another 30 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro as a garnish (or parsley, if you prefer) and steamed rice on the side.