Quinoa Mexican Soup

I’ve been known in the past to have what my friends and family call “Shiny Things Syndrome.” I can be in the middle of a conversation or on my way to another room to do something and all of the sudden something “shiny” will catch my eye and the next you know I’m lost in the conversation or have completely forgotten what I was trying to do. What can I say, I can be easily distracted.

That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago after I read a post on Branny Boils Over. She’s hosting a blogging event called the “Souper Bowl” and for every entry she will be donating $1.00 to the ASPCA. All you have to do is dedicate a post to a pet and share a recipe for soup. Sounds perfect for me! I love soup. I love my cats. I had a minestrone recipe just begging to be made. Then I posted my soup…. and realized about a day later that I just shared my entry for the Souper Bowl without actually making it an entry. DOH!

Then I found this recipe on Nicole’s blog and fell in love. Soup for me. Dedication to my cats. Post for the Souper Bowl. Win, win, win!

I love everything about this soup. Nicole said she wasn’t sure if she would like it but tried it anyway and liked it a lot. I, on the other hand, knew I would love this soup at first glance. The only thing that surprised me was the fact that I didn’t have to de-veganize it by adding sour cream and cheese. Of course I added a little cheese to one bowl. But I quickly found that it just wasn’t needed. There is flavor jam packed into every square inch of this soup and I love it. Did I say that already?

So in honor of both of my beautiful cats (who have to fly home to Ohio for the next couple of months while I’m in China, SO SAD!!!!!!!) I bring you Quinoa Mexican Soup.


Quinoa Mexican Soup

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
1 jalapeno, cut in half and seeds removed
1 cup dry quinoa
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
pinch ground cinnamon
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lime, cut into wedges (I forgot the lime!)

Turn your oven to broil, the high temperature if you have the option. Lay the poblano, red pepper and jalapeno skin side up on a baking sheet. Broil for 4-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, but just the skin chars. When the outsides are charred carefully remove from oven and place in a ziploc bag and let steam. Peel and dice the peppers.

In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and let cook for 4-5 minutes or until they just start to stick to the bottom of the pot. Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Cook again for another 3-4 minutes and deglaze again with more vegetable broth. Repeat this process 3 or 4 more times until the onions have caramelized and are dark golden brown with a slightly sweet taste.

While the onions are caramelizing, cook the quinoa according to the package.

When the onions are caramelized, add the rest of the broth, fire roasted tomatoes, poblano pepper, jalapeno, bell pepper, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, add the quinoa and stir.

Serve with fresh cut avocado and lime wedges (if you don’t forget them like me).

Source: As seen on Prevention, RD originally from Virtually Vegan Mama

Side Dish or Main Course?

If Jesse were home he would probably really enjoy this meal, but he wouldn’t really call it a meal. You see, in most cases, Jesse doesn’t consider it a main course if it doesn’t contain meat. It doesn’t matter if it is beef, chicken, pork or even a fish, it just needs to have some sort of meat. I know he would love this as a side dish to maybe grilled chicken or a steak, but I kind of like this as a main course because it is a complete protein without having the meat in it. I won’t become a vegetarian anytime in the near future, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a meatless option that is still filling. Especially with the price of meat in California.

I made this the first night Jesse was in China because I didn’t have any meat except some frozen chicken breast and I was a little chickened out at the time. It was so good that I thought about it over the weekend and by Monday night I had a full blown craving. By Tuesday I didn’t have a choice, I had to make it again. So call it a side dish or a main course, either way, it’s delicious.

Black Beans and Rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced yellow or red onion
1/2 cup bell pepper cut into strips, * (red, yellow, green or all 3)
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, drained
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 small tomato, diced)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of smoked paprika
3/4 cup chicken broth **
1 tbsp dry parsley or cilantro for topping
black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. With the heat on medium, add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the kosher salt and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the black beans, tomato, and seasonings. Reduce heat to low and stir in the chicken broth and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the beans are heated through. Serve immediately over rice.

* Obviously fresh bell peppers are always the best, but they can be pricey and sometimes go bad before being used. I started buying a frozen pack of precut tricolor bell peppers (kind of like this). They are perfect for quick weeknight meals. And it’s nice to have the trio of peppers without wasting half of each color pepper for smaller meals.

** I only used a half of a cup of chicken broth tonight and it was just a touch dry.