Our Favorite Recipes: A Wonderful Homemade Soup for Any Time of Year
I love to cook. Like my grandmother, one of my favorite pastimes is to read cookbooks. I love trying new techniques and learning new things. Most of all, I love making good, healthy, made-from-scratch soups that taste better as they settle and mellow (kind of like the body after Savasana!).
I stopped eating meat in 1978 and have never looked back. One thing I love about being vegetarian is that, especially in the early days, I had to learn how to cook with the most basic ingredients. Back in the ’70s there were no meat-free frozen dinners and few packaged foods. I learned to cook from scratch, and got used to the taste of foods made with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Now that there’s a plethora of processed choices, I still prefer to cook from scratch, partly because I’ve come to enjoy chopping veggies and fresh herbs and partly because it simply doesn’t occur to me to cook any other way.
Fifteen years or so of my vegetarianism was spent as a vegan. About 10 years ago, my acupuncturist suggested that I add some free-range eggs and a little goat cheese back into my diet once or twice a week, as my energy was flagging. This has turned out to be a healthy choice for my body.
The recipe that follows is one of my absolute favorite soups for any time of year. I made it just last evening. It does incorporate a small amount of cheese (I use goat feta) and a hard-boiled egg. If you include these things in your diet, I think you’ll enjoy this soup. This recipe comes from my overall favorite cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It has tons of great recipes, simple to elegant, and a wealth of information about cooking.
Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta and Scallions from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
- 3/4 cup quinoa, any color or variety
- 8 cups (2 quarts) water, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 large potato), peeled and small dice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 3 cups thinly sliced spinach leaves (from about 1 bunch)
- 4 ounces feta cheese, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and finely chopped
How to prepare:
- Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear.
- Bring the quinoa and the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the white outer casings on the quinoa have popped, revealing translucent little beads, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl. Measure the quinoa cooking liquid and add water as needed to make 6 cups; set the quinoa and cooking liquid aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, clean saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, cumin, and measured salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to soften, adjusting the heat as necessary so that the garlic doesn’t brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add the reserved cooking liquid and half of the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
- Add the cooked quinoa, spinach and remaining scallions and simmer until the spinach just begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with the chopped egg and serve.
We plan to post favorite recipes from our Hugger Mugger community periodically on this page. Send us your favorite healthy, meatless recipes!
As a frequent and fortunate diner at Charlotte’s table, I can attest to the delightful scrumptiousness of this soup (and the wholesome art of Charlotte’s cooking!).