Spicy Quinoa Soup

Back home from our Hawaiian vacation–back to gray Seattle skies and rain! The vacation was wonderful and much needed. Our vacation started with Skip and I spending a couple of days on our own in Honolulu;  we had some wonderful cocktails (with very cool people) at Pint + Jigger followed by a lovely meal at Town. I highly recommend both! My parents joined us the Sunday after we arrived and we headed to the little beach house we rented for a few days on the North Shore. It was a little piece of heaven…right on the edge of a pretty private beach and a perfect porch to sit, read, and have drink. Our time on Ohau was dotted with lazy moments on the porch, listening to the waves, and delicious meals at MW and the Koko Head Cafe along with daily doses of shave ice (Uncle Clay’s & Island Vintage Coffee Shave ice stand near Waikiki– fruit-based flavors, no crazy food coloring, and wonderfully fluffy ice). image

Then, mid-way through, we hopped over to Maui where we continued with our island fun: snorkeling at Molikini, shave ice at Ululani’s, dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen (so good!) and a luau at the Feast at Lele, and wrapped it all up with the drive to Hana (crazy curvy road but it lead to a stunning black sand beach). imageSpending time with my parents was something I haven’t had a chance to do in a very long time, at least not where it’s just us and no plans or obligations dictating what we do or where we need to be. Just me, mom, dad, and Skip and beach! Perfect! Now, I’m getting back in to the groove of real life, with it’s schedules, alarm clocks, and pants. Sigh.

We came home to cool weather with the typical Seattle rain and gray sky that is usually associated with spring in Seattle. I wanted something comforting and healthy for dinner, and that didn’t take too much time. While the laundry was going and Skip looked up some airfare details for our next trip–a little jaunt down to California for our niece’s high school graduation (!)–I made a spicy quinoa soup for dinner. It was just what I needed to ease back in to real life while dreaming about our next vacation.


Spicy Quinoa Soup

3/4 C chopped yellow onion [70 g]
1/2 C chopped yellow bell pepper [80 g]
1 Tbsp thinly chopped garlic [10 g]
1/3 C chopped carrot [50 g]
2 1/2 C Water, vegetable broth, or combination
1 Tbsp Pilpelchum (pepper paste, recipe below)*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 can diced, fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 C quinoa, rinsed
2 C water
1 large garlic clove, smashed

Salt & Pepper Yogurt (optional but highly recommended, recipe below)
Diced avocado (optional)

  • Add the olive oil to a stockpot on medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook for a few minutes, just till the onions are translucent and fragrant.
  • Add the diced carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Add the bell pepper and pilpelchum. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the diced tomatoes and water (or broth). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat.
  • While the soup simmers, combine the rinsed quinoa, water, and smashed garlic clove in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • To serve, combine 1/3 cup of quinoa (really, add how much you like!) with 1 C of the tomato-pepper soup. Top with salt and pepper yogurt and avocado.

Pipelchum (aka spicy goodness!)
from I will not eat oysters

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
½ Tbsp hot paprika
½ tsp cayenne
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks or longer.

A little note on the pipelchuma—the spiciness can vary depending on the potency and age of your paprika and cayenne. If you’re not a big fan of spicy food, adjust the amount of pipelchuma to suit your taste.

Salt & Pepper Yogurt

1/3 C Greek Yogurt (I used Ellenos — big surprise!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all and enjoy.

A note on the soup:

You can combine the quinoa with the spicy tomato broth if you don’t want to cook it separately. If you do that, I’d recommend cutting the quinoa to 1/2 to 3/4 C, and you’ll need to add at least 1 1/2 C water or broth to the spicy tomato-pepper soup for the quinoa to absorb. You’ll end up with more of a thick stew but it’s still delicious.

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