Discovering Ancient Grains: What is Quinoa?

| 5/2/2013 1:16:00 PM

discover quinoaQuinoa was a staple food for the South American Indians living in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. It was immensely popular because it was one of few crops that could survive in such high altitudes (10,000-20,000 feet above sea level). It could withstand frost, intense sun and the often drought conditions that characterized the Andean climate. It was also recognized for its superior nutritional qualities. It was for these reasons that it was dubbed “mother of all grains” by the Incas, so much so that it came to have spiritual significance for them. Many traditions and ceremonies surrounded the cultivation, harvest and consumption of quinoa.

Sopa de Quinoa 

Sopa de Quinoa

This flavorful soup is inspired by a traditional quinoa dish eaten in South and Central America. Adjust the amount or type of chile pepper to make it as spicy or mild as you like.

• 1 tablespoon oil
• 1 cup diced onion
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 serrano chile, minced
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• 1 medium Yukon gold potato, cubed
• 8 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup yellow corn kernels
• 1 cup diced red bell pepper
• 3/4 cup quinoa
• 1/4 cup chopped parsley
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• 2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, serrano chile, cumin, black pepper and salt. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, potato and broth. Cook over medium to medium-low heat until potato is soft, about 40 minutes.

2. Add corn, bell pepper and quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa begins to soften, about 8 minutes. Add parsley, cilantro and lime juice just before serving. Makes 6 servings.