Recipe for sopa de quinoa (quinoa soup)
From Latin Ladles: Fabulous Soups & Stews from the King of Nuevo Latino Cuisine, you chose this sopa de quinoa, and I'm so glad you did, because in addition to quinoa, chicken and spinach, it contains a melange of herbs from the garden. Quinoa and spinach are a natural combination; though it's considered an ancient grain, quinoa is actually a green, from the same family of leafy greens (goosefoot) as spinach and Swiss chard. The quinoa seed, which is the part we eat, has a mild, somewhat nutty taste and texture, more substantial than couscous; when cooked, it acts like rice and tastes like barley. Be sure to rinse quinoa in cold water before cooking, to remove any residue of the bitter outer coating.
Sopa de quinoa
Adapted from Latin Ladles by Douglas Rodriguez, this recipe serves 4.
2 quarts homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt (if using store-bought stock, do not add this)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 lb fresh spinach leaves (I used a 6-oz bag of baby spinach)
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed and chopped, stems discarded
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 sprigs mint, leaves removed and chopped
1 large jalapeño chile, stem, seeds and ribs removed, diced (I used a ripe red jalapeño, for color)
3/4 cup quinoa
2 stalks celery, diced
3 scallions, white and green parts, finely diced
In a stockpot over high heat (I use my 4-quart Dutch oven), combine the stock, chicken, bay leaf, thyme, 2 of the garlic cloves, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the post and set aside to cool. Strain the stock into a large measuring cup; discard the thyme, bay leaf and garlic, and set the stock aside.
In the same pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, parsley, cilantro, mint and jalapeño, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the strained stock, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Lower the heat to simmer, add the quinoa, celery and scallions, and cover. Simmer for 35 minutes.
While the stock is simmering, use two forks to shred the chicken. When the soup has cooked for the full time, uncover, add the chicken, and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Serve hot.