This Peruvian Sopa de Quinoa – Peruvian Quinoa Soup – features superfood Andean quinoa, healthy vegetables, and your leftover holiday turkey or rotisserie chicken in a fragrant soup that is both light-tasting and substantial at the same time. A steaming hot bowl of this healthy soup is easy to make, and can be ready in 30 minutes with your leftover turkey, rotisserie or other cooked chicken!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Peruvian Quinoa Soup
Having made 5 month-long trips to Peru with UTRGV studies abroad – 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023 – quinoa has gone from making an infrequent appearance at Andersen casa to being a regular pantry ingredient, and one I use regularly. In Peru, sopa de quinoa/Peruvian quinoa soup is most often a very simple soup made with chicken bouillon, quinoa, and vegetables, and served as a first course. It rarely includes poultry or meat. NOTE: I should qualify that by saying our time is mostly spent in the Andes and the Sacred Valley.
On our multi-day treks in the Peruvian Andes, a steaming hot bowl of quinoa soup chases away the cold. Our Quechua chef Isaac often serves it as a starter at our lunch stop, or for our larger dinner meal. This Peruvian soup is always welcome!
When I decided to come up with my own sopa de quinoa recipe, I wanted to make it a one-pot/one-bowl meal rather than a first course, hence the addition of cooked chicken or turkey. I also added more “green food” with fresh spinach. The soup is rounded out with both carrots and sweet potatoes. Yes, Peruvians eat spinach in addition to chiles and tubers!
📹How to Make Sopa de Quinoa Video
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- chicken or turkey – This Peruvian soup recipe starts with cooked chicken or turkey, making it an excellent way to use leftover holiday turkey or a rotisserie chicken. If you’re into “meal prep,” either cooked chicken breast or chicken thighs are great. If you need to cook chicken, boil a chicken breast or two, then dice or shred it.
- ají amarillo paste – There is not a substitute for ají amarillo paste. However, you can substitute ají panca paste. If you just omit it, you will still have a good quinoa soup. Most Latino foods markets will carry it, and you can order ají amarillo paste online. If you have frozen, jarred, or even dried peppers, you can make ají amarillo paste.
- ground cumin
- chicken broth
- sweet potato
- bay leaves
- Mexican oregano leaves – Mediterranean oregano leaves are fine as well. I often use fresh Mediterranean leaves from my garden. Triple the amount if you use fresh!
- quinoa – Make sure you thoroughly rinse your quinoa under cold water for at least 30 seconds to remove the saponin – bitterness – from the quinoa. 1 cup of dried quinoa equals about 3 cups cooked. I specify 3/4 cup of dried quinoa that is cooked prior to adding to the soup.
- fresh spinach
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- garnishes – This is optional, but we love fresh garnishes. Avocado (palta), fresh lime wedges, and fresh cilantro are all good options.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Sauté the aromatics – To a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil, and the onion and celery. Sauté until onion starts to show some color, and celery is almost tender.
- Continue with aromatics – Add the minced garlic, ground cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Cook about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the 4 cups of broth, the bay leaves, Mexican oregano, cubed sweet potato, and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then cover. While the soup simmers, rinse and prepare quinoa according to package instructions. After about 20 minutes simmering, check the vegetables. They should be tender or nearly tender. NOTE: The soup will cook another 5 minutes or so, and you don’t want them mushy!
- Finish the soup – When the vegetables are tender, check for seasoning, and stir in the cubed chicken, and the fresh spinach. Cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes to heat everything through.
- Serve – Ladle the quinoa soup into bowls, garnish as desired, and enjoy!
Yes and no. Quinoa continues to absorb liquid just like rice and pasta. We enjoyed our leftovers a couple of days later by re-heating on the stove, and adding additional broth. If you plan ahead, try adding the cooked quinoa per serving. Store the soup separate from the quinoa for a second meal.
Having made quinoa soup many times, I prefer the results. Quinoa absorbs a lot of liquid. In order to preserve the broth in this soup, I find cooking the quinoa first provides a better end result. Quinoa requires about 20 minutes to cook, so if you prefer, you can add the 1 1/2 cups liquid to the soup, and cook the quinoa in the soup.
If you have leftover quinoa (as I often do), this is a good way to use it. Add it just before serving, allowing enough time in the hot soup to heat through.
At Andersen casa, sopa de quinoa con pollo (quinoa soup with chicken) is as comforting as a bowl of grandma’s chicken noodle soup (or my day after Thanksgiving turkey noodle soup with homemade noodles)! Now that we’re moving into “cozy season,” you’ll want to give it a try. With your leftover turkey or a rotisserie chicken, it’s easy and quick enough for a busy weeknight dinner…
Sopa de Quinoa (Peruvian Quinoa Soup)
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- 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey - cubed or shredded
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 2 stalks celery - small dice
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste - or 2 if you like the heat!
- 4 cups chicken broth - may need additional to finish!
- 1 large sweet potato - cubed
- 2 large carrots - peeled and sliced
- ¾ cup dried quinoa - cooked according to package instructions
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves - packed
- 1 teaspoon salt +/- - if broth is salty, you may want less
- fresh ground pepper and sea salt - to taste
- garnishes - avocado, lime wedges, cilantro
- Over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil, and the onion and celery. Sauté until onion starts to show some color, and celery is almost tender.
- Add garlic, cumin, and ají amarillo paste. Cook about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add broth, bay leaves, oregano, sweet potato, and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then cover. While the soup simmers, prepare quinoa according to package instructions. After about 20 minutes simmering, check the vegetables. They should be tender or nearly tender.
- Stir in cubed chicken, cooked quinoa, and fresh spinach. Cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes to heat everything through.
- Ladle into bowls, and garnish as desired.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.