Like many people, one of my new year resolutions is to eat healthier. Other than a piece or two of chocolate during the day, it usually it isn’t very difficult for me to eat healthy during the week. However, when I got sick last fall I became much less disciplined when it came to my diet. Although I rarely ate unhealthily, I stopped making the effort to fill up with fruit and vegetables.
Knowing I had a big weekend of eating ahead of me, including a Bo Ssam feast, I wanted to eat light and healthy in the days prior and with temperatures in the 30s, I also really wanted soup. Enter: quinoa and vegetable stew. Although I really like the nutty taste of quinoa and love that it is a super food filled with vitamins and protein, I do not cook it as often as I’d like. For one, the various quinoa salads and stirfrys I had made were fine, but there wasn’t anything I was eager to make again. Secondly, a lot of recipes use quinoa as a replacement for rice. While that may be fine for some people, I love rice way too much to replace it with anything.
I found the recipe for quinoa and vegetable stew in USA Today which had printed it with permission from America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy. This soup was right up my alley. The recipe made good use of quinoa rather than just as a rice or pasta substitute and it incorporated loads of vegetables. In addition to the cup each of corn and peas in the recipe, I also added a cup of lima beans as there was a package in my freezer that needed to get used. With a few shakes of tabasco and a couple slices of avocado, I found this stew to be really really satisfying. The stew was also incredibly filling so I did not need a lot to get full and I did not get hungry again until it was time for the next meal.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons canola oil
salt & pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
6 cups vegetable broth
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup quinoa, rinced
1 cup frozen corn
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped coarse
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen lima beans
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into slices
Combine onion, bell pepper, oil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, coriander, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in broth and potatoes and bring to boil. Reduce to gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in quinoa and continue to simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in corn and continue to simmer until potatoes and quinoa are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and peas and let heat through, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual bowls with avocado before serving.
NOTE: This stew tends to thicken as it sits; add additional warm vegetable broth as needed before serving to loosen. Be sure to rinse the quinoa to remove its bitter coating (known as saponin) before cooking. You can also garnish this stew with queso fresco, if desired.