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This recipe for Peruvian quinoa soup is incredibly delicious, healthy and easy to make in one pot. Combining quinoa, vibrant vegetables, and authentic Peruvian spices, relish the heartwarming flavors of this Andean classic dish.
What is Peruvian Quinoa Soup?
Quinoa soup also called Sopa de quinua in Spanish, is a soup made with quinoa, a whole grain that is a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Quinoa is a versatile ingredient that can be combined with a variety of vegetables, meats, and seafood to create a delicious and nutritious soup.
Quinoa originated in the high Andes Mountain regions of Peru and Bolivia more than 5,000 to 7,000 years ago.
Peruvian quinoa was an important source of protein for the indigenous population and in particular the Inca civilization.
Due to its health benefits and high nutritional properties, it was said to help sustain the Inca warriors and feed the population.
Quinoa Soup Nutrition Facts
As a whole grain, quinoa is considered healthy. It has 20 amino acids, double the amount of protein compared to other cereals.
Quinoa is also a rich source of minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
With this simple Peruvian quinoa soup recipe, you can enjoy a nutritionally dense and flavor-packed soup for lunch or dinner.
History of Quinoa Soup
Quinoa soup dates back to the ancient Andean civilizations, which cultivated quinoa for thousands of years.
Quinoa, a staple food for the Inca, Aymara, and Quechua cultures, was used in a variety of dishes, including soup.
It was one of the most sacred foods of the ancient Incas, and they called it chesiya mama or the “Mother Grain.”
There are ancient legends that describe the origins of Peruvian quinoa soup. One such story is from Pedro Cieza de León, a Spanish conquistador and chronicler of Peru.
In his book, “Chronicle of Peru” he wrote that that the Incas prepared “quinoa soup with llama meat.”
Quinoa soup has been passed down from generation to generation and remains a popular dish in Peru and around the world.
Discovering Quinoa Soup in South America
While exploring the local food specialties in South America, we had quinoa soup in the Andes region of Argentina and Peru.
In Peru as a whole, and particularly prevalent in Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, quinoa is used in many different local recipes.
We tried many different Peruvian quinoa dishes from soups to breads, desserts, and more.
This traditional Peruvian quinoa soup recipe is easy to recreate in your kitchen.
And we’re excited to share this simple, healthy, and delicious recipe that is treasured Peruvian food.
Peruvian Quinoa Soup Recipe – How To Make Peruvian Soup Quinoa at Home
This delicious Peruvian quinoa soup is incredibly simple to make at home. It is a versatile soup that you can get creative with by adding additional vegetables or proteins.
You need only a few simple ingredients.
- Peruvian Quinoa – white quinoa or any color you prefer
- Vegetables – potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery
- Aji Amarillo paste – used widely in Peruvian cuisine
- Chicken broth
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For more delicious recipes from Peru, check out our other simple recipes of emblematic Peruvian foods and drinks.
Peruvian Quinoa Soup Recipe Tips
This quinoa soup recipe from Peru is extremely versatile. Besides the main ingredients of Peruvian quinoa, Aji Amarillo paste, and vegetables, you can customize it to your liking.
Here are a few tips to help you make this recipe easily at home.
Do you Have to Rinse the Quinoa?
It is recommended to rinse the quinoa before cooking it.
This is because quinoa has a natural coating called saponin, which can give the quinoa a bitter taste.
This coating is natural to the plant which helps make it less attractive to birds or insects
Rinsing the quinoa removes the saponin and the bitter taste.
To rinse the quinoa, simply place it in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear.
What Protein Works Best for Peruvian Quinoa Soup?
Chicken is the most popular protein for Peruvian quinoa soup, but other proteins like beef, pork, or seafood can also be used.
To add leftover chicken to Peruvian quinoa soup, simply shred the chicken and add it to the soup in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
If using fresh chicken, we recommend choosing boneless, skinless chicken breast.
After cooking the chicken separately, shred it and add it to the quinoa soup a few minutes before serving it.
Variations Of This Popular Peruvian Quinoa Soup
Some of the most popular variations of this quinoa recipe are:
- Chicken quinoa soup – This is the most popular variation, and it is made with chicken, vegetables, and chicken broth.
- Vegetarian quinoa soup – This variation is made without meat or dairy, and it is the quinoa vegetable soup recipe we provide. You can use a variety of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, zucchini, green beans, or spinach.
- Seafood quinoa soup – This variation can be made with seafood, such as shrimp, calamari, or fish.
What Kinds Of Vegetables To Use For This Peruvian Quinoa Soup
You can make this quinoa soup recipe with several commonly available vegetables. Some of the most traditional and popular vegetables to use are:
- Potatoes – potatoes are a staple in Peruvian cuisine. A variety of potatoes can be used, but the most common are yellow potatoes, which are soft and creamy.
- Carrots – carrots are sweet and crunchy vegetables that add color and flavor to the soup.
- Onions – red onions are a staple in Peruvian cuisine. If you don’t have any on hand, use traditional white onions.
- Celery – celery is a crunchy vegetable that helps to balance the flavor of the soup.
- Pumpkin– pumpkin is a sweet and creamy vegetable that adds richness to the soup. In Peruvian quinoa soup, zapallo pumpkin, which is a winter squash is often used.
- Other vegetables that can also be used are broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, corn, or beans.
Can I Make Peruvian Quinoa Soup without Sweet Potatoes?
The essential vegetables in traditional Peruvian quinoa soup are potatoes, onions, squash, celery, and carrots.
While some variations may include a sweet potato, although it is not considered one of the traditional ingredients of this soup.
Is it Necessary to Use Ají Amarillo?
Ají Amarillo available as Ají Amarillo paste is a yellow chili pepper that is a key ingredient in this Peruvian quinoa soup recipe.
In addition to adding a beautiful yellow to the soup, it also imparts fruity and spicy flavors to the soup, contributing to its authentic Peruvian taste.
What If I Don’t Have Ají Amarillo Paste?
Aji Amarillo paste is easily available at Latin American stores. If you do not have access to any in your area, you can find Aji Amarillo paste on Amazon.
Other alternatives to using Aji Amarillo paste include:
- Substitute with yellow bell pepper – Yellow bell peppers have a mild, sweeter flavor that can work to maintain the color and some of the flavor without the heat.
- Use a mild chili pepper – Choose a mild chili pepper, like Anaheim or banana peppers, to provide some heat without being overly spicy. Adjust the quantity to achieve your desired level of spiciness.
- Make your own chili seasoning mix – Make a chili blend that you can adjust to your liking. Include chili powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and your preferred spices.
Peruvian Quinoa Soup Step by Step Instructions
Clean and Chop Vegetables
Peel and dice the garlic, onion, and peppers and set aside. Next, peel and dice the butternut squash, carrots and potatoes, cutting everything into bite-size pieces.
In a soup pot over medium heat, start by sauteeing the garlic and onions. Add the peppers, carrots, and butternut squash and cook until the vegetables start to soften. Add diced potatoes and green beans.
Add Quinoa and Simmer
Add washed quinoa to the vegetables and pour in the chicken broth. Reduce the heat to low, cover the soup pot, and let it simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes until the quinoa is tender.
Peruvian Quinoa Soup Recipe
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- 4 yellow potatoes small, 350 g
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp Ají Amarillo paste
- 1 red onion
- 3 yellow chili peppers
- 1 green bell pepper 150 g
- 10 green beans
- 3 stalks green onions
- 1 piece butternut squash about 400 g
- 4 cups chicken broth 1 liter
- 2 cups additional water 500 ml
- 1 carrot 100 g
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Vegetables
- Peel and finely chop the garlic clove. Dice the red onion.
- Remove the seeds and membranes from the yellow chili peppers, then finely chop them.
- Dice the green bell pepper.
- Trim the ends of the green beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Slice the green onions.
- Peel and dice the butternut squash into small cubes.
- Peel and dice the carrots.
- Wash the small yellow potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. You can choose to leave the skin on if you prefer.
For the Quinoa
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water to remove any bitterness.
- Drain the quinoa and set it aside.
Cooking the Soup
- In a large soup pot, heat a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and the red onion and sauté for a few minutes until they become translucent.
- Add the chopped yellow chili peppers, ají Amarillo paste, green bell pepper, and diced butternut squash to the pot. Sauté for another few minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the diced potatoes, quinoa, green beans, and carrots to the pot.
- Pour in the chicken broth and add the 2 cups of water.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and cover the pot.
- Allow the hearty soup to simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
Serve and Garnish
- Using a ladle, serve hot Peruvian quinoa soup in bowls.
- Top each serving with cilantro or parsley leaves.
- Enjoy your hearty and delicious Peruvian quinoa soup.
- Feel free to taste the soup while it cooks and adjust the spice levels to your liking.
- This delicious quinoa and vegetable soup makes for a hearty lunch or healthy dinner. You can also have it as a starter or side dish for your main meal.
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest