Peruvian Quinoa-Vegetable Soup

I have the greatest memories of my trip to Peru with Joe. There's seldom a day that goes by when I don't think about something we did, whether it was the main event (hiking the Inca Trail) or something random but memorable (like paying a woman 2 soles at a train station so I could take a picture with her llama).

Our culinary adventures were equally memorable. We tried alpaca, guinea pig (hey, I wasn't a vegetarian yet), stuffed rocoto chiles, and those most delicious of cookies, alfajores. And some ceviche when we were in Lima. And lots of Inka Kola and pisco sours to wash it all down!


This Peruvian-inspired soup I made for dinner (borrowed from the lovely cookbook The 30-Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray) doesn't have any of that stuff in it, but it does have some traditionally Peruvian ingredients. Like quinoa, which has been an important staple in the Andes for 6,000 years. Even the use of soy sauce is authentically Peruvian, since a lot of the cuisine in that country was influenced by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which led to a fusion cuisine called chifa.

The soup's not much to look at, but it's delicious, filling, and healthy, and it reminds me of a great trip I took. Not bad for such quick work.

Peruvian Quinoa-Vegetable Soup
  • 7 cups water or vegetable stock (or a mix)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped potatoes (purple potatoes if you can find them)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup sliced cabbage
  • 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Place the water and soy sauce in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa. Begin prepping the vegetables and place them in the pot as you go. Start with the potatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, cabbage, jalapeno, and tomatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender and the quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes from when the quinoa was added. Add the cilantro, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
Variations: You can saute the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for extra flavor before adding the water, quinoa, and remaining ingredients. For extra protein, you could also add 1 pound of extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes, after adding the veggies.