First a disclaimer! I have no idea how Peruvian this soup actually is! But I do know Peruvian Quinoa Soup is a beautiful soup this time of year (late spring) and perfect for any cold, rainy days. Of course, you can have it any time of the year; that could never be wrong. It’s comforting and full of good stuff and hearty without feeling heavy. And best of all, it’s made with mostly pantry ingredients.
So classic Peruvian or not there are some classic Peruvian flavors and ingredients in this soup. There’s a little quinoa (were you wondering what to do with all that quinoa you stocked up on?) some sweet potato, and a few other fun ingredients.
About Peruvian Quinoa Soup:
I’m loving on this soup and have been making versions of it for quite a while now. It first came to my attention through a Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives episode, episode, Soup Centric that featured the Soup Nation Cafe in Eugene, Oregon. That inspired me to kind of put my own spin on things.
So while their soup called for the Quinoa (duh, lol!) and pork and has yams, carrots, and onion, I’ve been making versions with pork and with chicken and I’ve been using potatoes and/or sweet potatoes and have even at times used rice instead of the quinoa. So I guess you could say this is the perfect soup to adapt to whatever ingredients you might have on hand or can easily get. It’s basically a template.
That’s probably the best kind of soup for today’s environment! So I’ll get you started and you can follow exactly or riff to your heart’s content. I mean, you really can’t go wrong. And maybe you’ll stop back and tell me about your own special touches?
What Protein Works Best for Peruvian Quinoa Soup?:
First off, I gotta mention the Quinoa which has long been touted as a Superfood. It’s an interesting ingredient because it’s a complete protein on its own (that means that it has all the “essential” amino acids we need to produce protein.) Our bodies produce some amino acids but the rest, those essential ones, come from the food we eat. Other than fish/animal protein. milk & milk products or eggs, quinoa is the few foods that has them all. But that’s not all it brings to the table; read what the World’s Healthiest Foods has to say about it to get the full picture.
In addition to the quinoa, this soup is fabulous with either chicken or pork. Best of all, though, this is a great toss together soup with store-bought broth and can be made with a little chicken (or turkey) or pork you cook just for the recipe or any leftovers, but it can be made from the bones scratch if you want. You’ll need about three cups of either chicken or pork but since so much protein comes from the quinoa you can fudge if you need to.
- Pork: If you’d like to make this with pork, there are several options. You can roast pork shoulder just for the recipe, but since I’m all about maximizing time and ingredients, and pork shoulder does take time, you might want to roast a pork shoulder for dinner one night and save some just for this soup. If you do that, know that how your pork is cooked can vary the flavor, but I think that’s a good thing. We loved it at our house when I used plain roasted pork but loved it, too, when I made this with leftover barbecued pulled pork. The smoky barbecue flavor was a fun spin! I have multiple recipes for pork shoulder on my main menu for pork, Pork Main Dishes & Entrees.
- Chicken: If chicken is your jam, again, you can make this soup with just about any chicken you’d like to cut up and shred for the recipe or leftover chicken along with some store-bought broth. If you’d like to see other chicken recipes, check out my chicken menu, Chicken & Poultry Mains. Some of my Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce that I posted about a month ago would be fabulous in this, just sayin’ but any chicken will do.
- Stock from Scratch, Optional: Any stock will do, store-bought or homemade but if you want to make this soup and stock from a chicken or turkey stock that’s fabulous. I do have a standard stovetop method for cooking my stock using turkey or chicken, my Best Turkey or Chicken Stock. You could also throw those same ingredients in a slow cooker and set for about 4 hours on high, stop, remove any meat, then continue to cook the remaining bones for another six to nine hours. Depending on how clean the carcass was to start with you might end up with enough chicken/turkey for this soup.
Optional Peruvian Green Sauce:
With all my different versions, there is one very special little touch that takes this soup from delicious to crave-worthy, and you might have to trust me on this one! If you can possibly swing it, add a little Peruvian Green Sauce! You’ll find the super easy blender recipe on my Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce post.
You can riff on that recipe (and maybe it’s even deserving of its own post, it’s so fabulous) but just use a little something green and a little something hot, and lime if you have it and vinegar if you don’t. I’ve been making it with my herbs but if that’s not an option, toss a little spinach (I have even seen this made with Romaine lettuce once on tv). It needs something for a little heat (aji Amarillo is usually called for but can be skipped) and I usually keep roasted jalapenos in my freezer but any jalapeno or serrano, roasted or not, maybe jarred, or another hot pepper or even a few red pepper flakes can sub in.
I don’t know what magic is at work in this soup when a little of that sauce is spooned in but it does take this soup next level. I think maybe it’s just the little touch of fresh. A little lime will do that too. But the sauce and the lime? Oh my gosh…
Making Peruvian Quinoa Soup/Long Version:
There’s one thing about this recipe that’s different from your standard soup recipe. It’s not, at least how I make it, a one-pot soup. You can shortcut and do it in one pot (below) but I find when I cook any soup with quinoa or with a grain, I like them much better when the starchy grain isn’t cooked in the actual soup. I think the texture of the broth and the flavor of the final soup is much improved; the starch that comes off quinoa (or a grain) can dull all the other flavors and the soup can get muddy.
So you’ll start by roasting the sweet potato in the oven (about 45 minutes), then peel and dice when cool enough to handle. In the meantime, cook the quinoa on its own and when finished give it a quick rinse and strain. It takes about 15 minutes to cook on the stove and if you want the Instant Pot Instructions or more info on the Stovetop method, check this post, Light & Fluffy Quinoa, with Instant Pot and Stovetop. methods.
While all that is going on, add oil to the pan and saute the vegetables, the carrots, and onions. When they’re soft and translucent add in the garlic, coriander, and the turmeric, then the stock. Once everything is at a good simmer, in goes the meat of choice, the quinoa, and the sweet potato to heat through and all that’s left to do is to finish with the lime juice, salt to taste and white pepper. Garnish with cilantro and additional lime.
To Shortcut This Soup & Make a One-Pot Recipe:
I get that everyone doesn’t want to fuss with a soup and have multiple pans to wash. So here’s your down and dirty get it on the table method for a quick(ish) shortcut.
First, peel and dice the sweet potato into about 1/2″ dice in addition to dicing the other vegetables as directed. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, add in the carrots, onion, and sweet potato and saute, adding more oil as needed, until soft and tender. Add in the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook until fragrant.
Add the stock, increasing the amount by 2 1/2 cups to about 14 1/2 cups. Add quinoa. Simmer for about 15 minutes until quinoa and sweet potatoes are tender, then add in the meat of choice. Finish with the lime juice, salt to taste and white pepper. Garnish with cilantro and additional lime.
To Make this Soup with a Chicken Carcass/Bones:
While any stock will do, store-bought or homemade, if ya want to go all out with a homemade stock you can do easily. I do have a standard stovetop method for cooking my stock using turkey or chicken, my Best Turkey or Chicken Stock. You could also throw those same ingredients in a slow cooker and set for about 4 hours on high, stop, remove any meat, then continue to cook the remaining bones for another six to nine hours.
Depending on how clean the carcass was to start with you might end up with enough chicken for this soup as well as the stock, and if you’re making this with turkey, you’ll have more than enough of both turkey and stock for other uses.
Saving Money on Peruvian Quinoa Soup:
There is no doubt about it, Quinoa is a pricey ingredient but it has a high payoff in nutritional value. See what The World’s Healthiest Food has to say about it. If you use quinoa often, it pays to know where it costs less; compare the health food store, any grocery stores you shop at and at your own store, check the healthy organic aisle, the bulk aisle and the rice & bean aisle. The prices can vary wildly & you might need a calculator to figure out which is the best price.
Seasonal in the fall, sweet potatoes drop in price drastically before Thanksgiving and are often at a low during the Winter Holiday season when they become a competitive item. In the past few years, hailed for having a lower glycemic index than the standard russet, they’ve reached superfood status and you may find them on sale during other times of the year. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, well-ventilated area between 55 and 60 degrees, well away from any onions and they’ll keep for weeks. Do not refrigerate.
Carrots are an inexpensive item even not on sale. but keep so well they’re worth picking up if you should happen to see them on sale. Larger packages are often cheaper per pound than smaller ones. Carrots will keep better in a ventilated bag so if the bag they’re in doesn’t have holes, poke some of our own in the packaging. Rotate the package from time to time and if your vegetable drawer has ridges, make sure the carrots are placed at right angles and not laying inside the ridges. Ventilation and circulation are key to avoiding condensation which can cause rot.
As far as buying stock, it will always be so much more to buy than to make your own. Shop for it during the Winter Holidays and/or around the Easter/Lent Sales and stock up. While stock is usually at a great price at Aldi and your Buyer’s club compared to the regular grocery store price, neither Aldi or you Buyers Club prices will begin to approach a good holiday sales price.Print
Peruvian Quinoa Soup
- 1 medium-large sweet potato or two smaller (see note)
- 1 1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots. diced 3/8ths inch thick
- 1 large onion. diced 3/8ths inch thick
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 12 cups vegetable, chicken or pork stock (preferably homemade)
- approximately 3 cups cooked and diced or shredded pork shoulder or chicken
- 2 tablespoons lime juice plus additional lime for garnish
- white pepper to taste
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Pierce sweet potato several times and place on oven rack. Roast until just fork tender 35 to 45 minutes. Set aside to cool enough to handle, remove skins and dice into 1/2″ dice. Set aside.
In the meantime, add bring 2 1/2 cups water and quinoa to a boil, cover, reduce temperature to a simmer and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse and drain.
In a large Dutch oven, heat pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and when hot, the carrot and onion and 1 teaspoon of salt. Saute until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, a minute or two. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
Add in the cooked quinoa, the pork or chicken and the sweet potatoes. Add the lime juice, then any additional salt and the white pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve with additional lime if desired.
- Sweet Potato: After the sweet potato is baked you’ll want about 2 cups of bite-sized diced, about 1/2″ so judge accordingly
- Chicken/Turkey: Any cooked chicken or turkey will do for this soup, leftover is fine. If you don’t have cooked chicken, drizzle a chicken breast or two with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in a 375-degree oven until done about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Pork Shoulder: It is potentially difficult to make only 3 cups of pork shoulder as it needs to cook for such a long time. Either use leftover pork shoulder or plan to make and use the rest of it for another recipe. Season the pork butt generously with salt and pepper. Place the pork in a roasting pan, cover with foil and roast until tender, at least 4 hours. Dice the pork and reserve three cups for this soup. Set aside the remaining pork for another use.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Carrots, Chicken, Latin American, Peruvian, Pork, Potatoes, Quinoa, Soup, Sweet potato, Turkey, Turkey Leftovers