Colca Cañon Quinoa Soup

By • August 21, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I first had this soup in a tiny little restaurant near my hostel that served price-fix trekker meals (meant for hungry tourist, trekking the canyon) after 24 hours of traveling alone. It was called "Sopa de Quinoa" or quinoa soup, and was included in my price-fix meal. It comforting because it was WARM, filling, and I could identify all the ingredients! Once my server saw that I was holding my bowl to try and warm my hands after inhaling my soup he also brought me a cup of tea to hold. So sweet of him. I ordered this soup all through the rest of my trip when I could find it, but everyone made it differently and that first bowl imprinted on me as how it should be. I've modified my soup to be vegetarian/kosher friendly, but feel free to make it with chicken broth -which would be more authentic to the original.

Colca Cañon, Peru is 2x the depth of the Grand Canyon. While there I saw the most brilliant stars and inky black sky I've ever seen, a planetarium show about Inca constellations, and the magnificent Andean condors, massive vultures that ride the thermals through the canyon and live along the rim.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS: For the vegetarian beef broth, used in cooking the quinoa, I use Stretiz's Beef Flavored PARVE No MSG Soup Base. Imagine's Vegetarian No Chicken Broth makes a great soup base, I used 1/2 that and 1/2 generic low sodium vegetable broth for this soup. If you like yours soupier and less stew-like feel free to add all 8 cups (2 cartons) of soup broth.
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Serves 8

Quinoa

  • 1.5 cups white quinoa, rinsed in a mesh strainer under cold water for 1-2 minutes
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon vegetarian beef or vegetable broth powder

Soup

  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound bag of frozen chopped kale (or one 10 oz box, defrosted)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or boxed broth
  • 8 ounces cotija cheese (OR queso duro blanco), diced and set aside
  • 1 small lime, cut in wedges
  1. Use your favorite method to cook the quinoa. I dump everything into my programable rice cooker and use the "quick cooking" setting, fluffing it when the timer goes off. If you are cooking it stovetop: after rinsing the quinoa put it in a large sauce pan and add the water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then add the broth powder. Stir and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover and cooker for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and turn off the stove. After 5-7 minutes uncover and fluff the quinoa as you would rice. Set aside and keep covered until ready to add to the soup.
  2. In your soup pot (4 qt or larger), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the carrots and onion until soft, then add the garlic. Stir often. Cook until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown (about 15 minutes).
  3. Add the stock/broth to the onion mixture in the soup pot and bring up to a simmer.
  4. Once the broth is simmering, add the bag of frozen kale and let the soup heat up until it's just starting to bubble around the edges again.
  5. Add the quinoa.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the diced cotija cheese and serve immediately. OR you can just top what you want to eat immediately with cheese and let it cool before adding the cheese to pint jars of soup (this soup travels well for lunches and freezes well -minus the cheese- too).

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