Monday, June 19, 2006

quinoa, corn and spinach chowder



in the middle of the night, in the middle of the week, smack in the middle of a bout of insomnia, i…. went shopping. clad only in paint-stained sweats, holy sweater and bunny slippers, i ......went online. i logged onto……amazon……and emptied my wish list……..straight into my shopping cart. and then, with matted hair, wild eyes, bad breath and ratty clothes, i shuffled my once pink now brown little one eyed bunnies down the cyber aisle, and…….checked out.

a few days later i was awoken from a fitful mid afternoon nap to the bing-bonging of my front doorbell. as i peered through the peephole i realized just what i had done……that my hazy recollection of a fantastical midnight shopping spree was not a sleep-deprived delusion and had materialized into a brown-clad, ups-emblazoned, brawny young man at my front gate. gleefully i ripped open the monstrous box, littered the tiny living room floor of my tiny little apartment and……rolled around on a mountain of new books. i snapped the spines, dog eared the pages, and warmly welcomed them home. buried in this cornucopia of fallen trees was deborah madison’s newish book, vegetable soups from deborah madison's kitchen.

since rediscovering vegetarian cooking for everyone I’ve become a big fan of the big DM. she has an interesting and light touch with flavor combinations which, for the most part, work beautifully. i also love soups. soup is my favorite food, hands down (well, maybe one hand down because the other hand will invariably find itself insided a bag of salty chips). i was a little skeptical about this recipe because of the quinoa. i know all the rap about this little grain who could, but somehow it just never floats my boat. regardless of how i cook it and how i season it, there is something, well, boring about it. but i had some quinoa on hand, some fresh white corn, a few butter gold potatoes, and a wrinkled jalapeno pepper that needed to be put out of its misery, and so i gave it a shot. and once again DM surprised me. i love this soup. the quinoa makes this soup hearty without being heavy and the fluffy little grains look so pretty floating around the bowl. the corn adds textural interest as it’s not overly cooked, providing a bit of snap, crunch and sugar sweetness into each mouthful. the only major modifications i made were to omit all dairy and egg products, add some diced carrots for color, and use a vegetable stock (actually knorr vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes). because i omitted the cheese i added a few squeezes of lemon juice to brighten things up a bit. i've put the egg and dairy options in the recipe, but you don't need it, really!

quinoa, corn and spinach chowder
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed under running water
7 cups water/stock
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 carrot, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1+ cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, diced and seeded (leave some seeds if you want it hotter)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
1 bunch of spinach
3 scallions, minced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
lemon juice to taste
1/4 lb. feta cheese, cubed (optional)
1 hard boiled egg, chopped (optional)

simmer the quinoa in 7 cups of water or stock for about 10 minutes. if using water you will probably want to add some cubed stock or bouillon later to give the dish some body. drain and reserve the cooking liquid. while the quinoa is cooking, cut the kernals off two cobs of corn. then using the flat edge of the knife scrape those last little juicy bits off the ear into the bowl with the kernals. if you are using the oil, heat the oil in a 3 quart saucepan and cook the garlic and chile for about 30 seconds, then add the cumin salt and potatoes. add 6 cups of reserved quinoa cooking water, quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes. add corn. turn off heat and stir in spinach, cheese (if using) and scallions. just before serving mix in egg (optional) and cilantro. if you are not using the oil or the dairy ingredients, just place all of the reserved cooking water in a pot (again, if you used water to cook your quinoa you will want to add some bouillon now) with the potatoes and quinoa and simmer 15 minutes. then add corn, spinach and scallions. adjust seasonings with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few squeezes of lemon juice to taste.

or the non vegan version as it appears in her book, add 1/4 lb. cubed feta cheese and 1 peeled and diced hardboiled egg.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Jenna said...

I am SO making this for dinner tonight. I love quinoa in soups. However, I may take a page out of Ann Gentry's Real Food Daily cookbook and toast the quinoa in a saute pan before adding it to the stock...

Thanks for the recipe!

10:14 AM  
Blogger KleoPatra said...

Nice to see the post here. I have always felt likewise about quinoa. Perhaps it is a matter of figuring out how well to cook it to get it right. Thanks for giving it another chance and perhaps I can follow suit.

Love your description of shopping and the aftermath! Funny. And relate-able!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Harmonia said...

We sure could use your help in the recipe section of the Vegginout Board! I always love your posts!

12:12 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

And I want to hear what the other books were!

3:24 PM  
Blogger t. said...

Yum Yum Yum!!!
Sometimes strange dream become true right? And they even ring the doorbell!
Great quinoa recipe!

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

Love the recipe (the photo is great - can't wait to try it!) but have to sportingly disagree with your take on the humble quinoa. It's great texture and pleasant taste make it easy to soup (if you'll pardon the pun) up with other ingredients. Yes, I've probably gone a little quinoa overboard lately, but that I make all the time. Quick and delicious, it's a full meal that has some similar ingredients to the chowder. Enjoy!

5:53 AM  
Blogger Carrie™ said...

Pic looks great, recipes sounds fab. I don't think it would need feta and egg. It would take away from the soup. As is, is perfect.

8:40 AM  
Blogger jenjen said...

I've always wondered how you cook with quinoa, Thanks for the recipe.
Just wondering are you able to bake with it?

12:22 PM  
Blogger rae said...

jenna: toasting the quinoa first. what a great idea. i'll have to try that sometime.
kleopatra: internet shopping. a curse and a blessing but always a danger!
harmonia: i'll come by and check it out!
rachel: check out my next post for one of the other books....
t: yes, opening the door during a lazy midafternoon to a man in uniform...sounds like some kinda porno dream...
vanessa: pun pardoned and much appreciated. i know i'm a bad veggie disliking little Q....
carrie: i agree. it seems to me that feta and egg would overpower it, or at least change the character a lot.
jenjen: there are tons of things you can do with quinoa but i'm definitly not the one to ask given my lack of fondness for the stuff...

8:10 PM  
Anonymous sher said...

Wonderful picture. You can always count on Deborah Madison, she's one of my favorite cooks. I've never tried this recipe, but I will now.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, just discovered you blog through a link from vegan.com. this soup looks wonderful! am def going to make it. I also recently took Deborah Madison's book off my shelf where it's been for many years.

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