It’s almost winter here in Socal and that means it’s finally getting a little cold. OK, so maybe it’s not nearly as cold as other parts of the country. But it’s cold enough to bring on the desire for a heartwarming, filling soup.
I was first introduced to this soup when we lived in Ecuador. This soup has two of Ecuador’s, and for that matter, the Andes’ most common foods combined – potatoes and quinoa.
It’s a common soup in the Ecuadorian Highlands, combined with milk, fresh farmers cheese, peanut butter, and Achiote aka Annatto for color, this soup is filling enough to be a meal in itself. You can substitute here a good quality feta or a mozzarella cheese (though it lacks the salt).
Annatto is a colorant and mild spice which comes from a tree that grows in the Amazon jungle. The orange in your cheddar cheese, as well as many other products, comes from annatto. It has a very mild flavor and is more used for the coloring than anything else. You can usually find it in the latin section at your grocery store.
The peanut butter nicely complements the nuttiness of the quinoa. I suppose you could also try using almond butter for a twist. For those of you who are vegan or avoiding dairy products, you could easily leave the milk out and it won’t make a world of difference.
Quinoa is usually cooked just like rice, with a ratio of about 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. However, in this soup you just add in the quinoa with the other prepared ingredients, and let it cook. It’s what makes the soup so thick and hearty.
Waxy potatoes like red bliss, fingerling, or new potatoes work best. The Ecuadorian chola potato this soup is traditionally made with-well, you’ll have to go to Ecuador to get it. The “papa chola” as it’s known, has a one-of-a-kind meaty texture that holds together really well in soups. And it has the perfect toothsome texture when eating. So the next time you’re in Ecuador, be sure to get the real thing.
This comes pretty close though.
Spicy Ají (chile) sauce is the standard accompaniment for this soup. While we can’t get Ecuadorian chile peppers here, which have a unique flavor, using your favorite hot sauce goes along way in adding a delicious kick to this soup. It will keep you warm and full on many a winter’s day.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 6 cups water or chicken stock
- 1/4 ounces cup or 4peanut butter
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- One onion diced finely diced
- cloves Twogarlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground achiote
- 1/2 pound waxy potatoes quartered
- cup Onecrumbled or cubed feta cut in half inch squares
- Cilantro for garnish.
- Heat the cooking oil to medium heat.
- Add the onion and sauté gently without adding any color.
- When the onion is almost done, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Add in the achiote and cook for 30 seconds until it releases its color in the oil.
- In a large pot, place your cooking stock, diced potatoes, quinoa and your prepared onions and garlic.
- Bring to a boil and then lower to a slow simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, at which point your quinoa should have fully bloomed and the soup should have thickened considerably.
- Add 1 cup milk and peanut butter, making sure all the peanut butter completely melts and incorporates into the soup. At this point, the soup should be fairly thick, like a watery oatmeal, not a thin gruel.
- Add in the feta cheese, Edster to incorporate well.
- Serve with diced cilantro on top. Also goes really well with Tabasco or other hot sauce.