Hot and Sour Quinoa Soup

Spring should have sprung but the winter weather is just not abating.... it has been truly grim. The shelves are still providing us with various types of cabbage, potatoes and produce flying in from afar. If you are the type of cook who chooses seasonality over variety it has been a very long season indeed! Hot soups and stews are still very much on the menu and I am just longing to eat salads and drink rose in our tiny garden.... alas we must be patient and wait a littler longer.

This soup is a beautiful combination of crunchy vegetables, nutty quinoa and a fragrant hot and sour broth. A version of it was made for me by a friend a few years ago and since then it has featured regularly. I cant actually remember the recipe she used so this recipe is one I have adapted over time. It is so easy to make and is great when the fridge is looking a tad bare and you have the odd carrot and leek lolling about. Quinoa is one of my favourite grains and I cook it far too rarely, this soup brings out its delicious flavour and adds wonderful texture. It is a complete meal in a bowl and lovely with some whole grain bread or crispy crackers. I am ridiculously addicted to Finn Crisp, thin rye crisp breads that I could eat with everything. You can also add a final gilding of yoghurt and coriander when serving. 


1 large carrot
1 medium green leek
an inch of fresh ginger
1 red chilli, sliced
half a tsp fennel seeds
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 Lt vegetable or chicken stock
juice of a lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
60g quinoa
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare quinoa: two parts water to one part quinoa, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. In the meantime julienne the carrots and thinly slice the ginger into tiny match sticks. In a heavy saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the fennel seeds, allow to sizzle. Add chilli, ginger and garlic, fry for a couple of minutes until garlic is just turning golden. Add carrots and warm through. Add tomatoes, stock and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes. Add finely sliced leeks and quinoa, again bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. Keep the cooking time quite short to help the vegetables retain some crunch. Season with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of sugar if the broth is too tart. There should be a lovely balance between the hotness from the chilli and the sourness of the lemon, adapt to suit your taste.