The weather has changed so much here. We've had several days of rain, and It looks like we'll have more soon. That's not always the case here. Sometimes, I almost forget what it's like living in the Midwest and South, where rain is a fairly regular occurrence. We never know out here in the West. I remember years where it didn't rain at all for almost a year (well, it seemed like that).
This cold, damp weather is just the thing for soup. And last week I made a soup that may seem odd at first glance. It's Deborah Madison's quinoa chowder with spinach, feta cheese and scallions. I wanted to make this soup for some time, to see how the ingredients worked together. Actually, I knew it would taste great because I've NEVER had a bad meal made from a Deborah Madison recipe. It's uncanny. But, this soup recipe is different. Madison herself wondered how it would taste when she first saw a version in another cookbook. Well, it tastes wonderful--fresh and tangy and creamy. And the quinoa holds up well in the liquid, not becoming soggy like rice or pasta does after being reheated. This is one of my favorite soups now. My husband had two big bowls and announced enthusiastically, "That was good soup!" When he says that, it means the recipe is a winner. I noticed that Bunnyfoot also cooked a vegan version of this recipe. Hers includes corn and carrots and is very pretty. Finally, this is a quick and easy recipe that can serve as a complete meal, something I always appreciate.
Quinoa Chowder With Feta, Spinach, And Scallions (Deborah Madison)
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a sieve
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, diced and seeded (or use a teaspoon of crushed red pepper like I did)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (Or season to taste. I used more because I love cumin)
salt and pepper
1/2 lb. boiling potatoes, cut into 1/4" cubes
7 cups chicken stock
3 cups finely shredded spinach
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, including about 1 inch of the green part
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 lb. feta cheese, diced
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
Put the quinoa in 2 quarts stock, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, chop your vegetables and cheese. Drain the quinoa when it's done and reserve the liquid. You should have about 7 cups of liquid, add more stock if necessary..
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile (or chile flakes). Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and potatoes. Cook for a few minutes but don't let the garlic brown. Add the quinoa stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach and remaining scallions and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the feta and cilantro. Season with pepper and garnish with chopped egg.