Western Soup – Cream of Roasted Capsicum and Quinoa

Western Soup - 001 Roasted Capsicum and Quinoa edited re-sized

What is quinoa (pronounced as “keewah”)? It is a seed that has been grown for thousands of years in Peru, Chile and Bolivia and eaten as a staple by the Incas.

The UN declared 2013 as International Quinoa Year. Foodies in the West have recently heralded it as a superior alternative to bulgur wheat, couscous and rice.

Why has it become such a rage in recent years? It is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium. calcium, vitamin E and fiber. It is one of only a few plant foods that has an excellent amino acid profile containing all nine essential amino acids making it a complete-protein source. Hence, it is an excellent choice for vegans who may struggle to get enough protein in their diets. Quinoa is a slowly digested carbohydrate, making it a good low-GI option.

Let’s get going on how to make this creamy, flavour and nutrition packed soup!

Some comments about the Ingredients

  • Quinoa I do apologise for not including this seed in the above photo of ingredients. It can be purchased locally at gourmet supermarkets and health food shops. For on-line shoppers, purchase through iHerb.com
  • Home-made chicken stock Please click here for my earlier post. I have also posted recipes for Pork and Vegetable stocks and these are good substitutes.
  • Canned tomatoes For practical reasons, any brand will do as I have tried several of them. Locally grown tomatoes tend to be very tart, less flavourful with a less desirable orangey instead of red colour. Fresh plum tomatoes are too costly and require more preparation.
  • Dried Thyme If you have fresh ones, please use them. Dried herbs are stronger flavoured than fresh herbs. Use 3 times the amount of fresh herbs compared to dried ones. For e.g, if a recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of fresh oregano, you need only 1 tsp of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.

Roasting the Capsicum

More details about how to do this over an open gas flame can be found in “Cooking 101 – Roasting Capsicum”. Click here for my post.

Prepare all the other ingredients.

HINTS:

1. If you would like to garnish the soup with some roasted capsicums, remember to set aside some from those which you have diced for the soup.

2. If you are willing to sacrifice some taste for convenience, purchase a large jar (340 gm) of char-grilled capsicums packed water. Drained weight will be 220 gm.

 

Cooking the Soup

STEP 1. Heat a large saucepan or stock pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, chopped onions and dried thyme and cook for about 5 mins. Once onion softens, add chopped garlic and potatoes, and cook them for another 5 mins. Next, canned tomatoes and roasted peppers are added into pot and the caramelizing continues for another 5 to 7 mins.

HINT: photo above shows some dried onion flakes on top of the bowl of roasted capsicums. I had some in my fridge so I added 1 Tbsp to create a deeper flavour. This is optional. I do this when it is suitable to use up my ingredients.

STEP 2. Chicken broth and water are added into the pot of caramelised vegetables and herb. Raise heat to high to bring soup to rolling boil. Pour 1/3 cup of quinoa, lower heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until quinoa expands and softens, showing it is cooked. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.

Blending the Soup

STEP 3. Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. If you don’t possess a food processor, a powerful stick blender is very useful in making cream soups.

If you prefer a thinner consistency, add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock or water and adjust for saltiness.

RECIPE

Serves: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large red capsicums, roasted and diced
  • 3 medium sized potatoes,peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes (can is 14.5 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups home-made chicken stock
  • 11/2 to 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil

Optional: Garnishes like chopped spring onion, extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper. 

Method:

1. Heat a large saucepan or stock pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, chopped onions and dried thyme and cook for about 5 mins. Once onion softens, add chopped garlic and potatoes, and cook them for another 5 mins. Next, canned tomatoes and roasted peppers are added into pot and the caramelising continues for another 5 to 7 mins.

2. Chicken broth and water are added into the pot of caramelised vegetables and herb. Raise heat to high to bring soup to rolling boil. Pour 1/3 cup of quinoa, lower heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until quinoa expands and softens, showing it is cooked. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.

3. Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. If you don’t possess a food processor, a powerful stick blender is very useful in making cream soups. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock or water and adjust for saltiness.

4. Plate each serving. Optional: Garnish with slivers of roasted capsicum which you had earlier set aside, some chopped spring onions. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and crack some black pepper for added dimension.

HINT: This soup freezes well. Cook a double recipe. Pack into 1 cup servings and freeze for future meals.

Serving Suggestions

This post adds to my posts of Western recipes and is line with my intentions to build on recipes for Salads and Soups.

For a light meal, consider serving this soup with artisan breads. Serving it with one of these

  1. Chicken Salad sandwiches (Click here) or
  2. Gravlax sandwiches from Home-made Gravlax (Click here)

will ensure a heartier meal.

If your plan is to entertain, reduce your cooking prep and time in the kitchen by purchasing a ready roasted chicken or ribs from the supermarket and make a dessert ahead. Here a list of previous posts which may helpful.

1. Baked Red Snapper. Click here.

2. Sweet or Savoury Crepes. Click here.

3. Ginger Poached Pears. Click here.

4. Caramel Custard. Click here.

5. If you purchase ready made frozen short crust pastry, you can make a delicious apple making this apple pie filling. (Click here).

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