Sopa de Quinua (Quinoa Soup): Visiting Peru

by Karen on Monday, November 15, 2010

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I don’t always make the healthiest dishes on this blog.  In fact, I’m often drawn to choosing destinations that will involve moo and oink friends.  Mmm nom noms.  But despite this, the majority of the week I’m eating very simple, healthy and mostly meat-free meals.  And one of my favorite ingredients to use is quinoa.  Don’t let the weird name scare you (pronounced keen-wah), it’s really easy to use in everyday recipes.

Although it looks like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and originated in the Andean region in South America.  It has been used by indigenous people throughout the area for thousands of years.  Quinoa was central to Incan life and was used in religious ceremonies, no doubt due to the fact that it’s a superfood packed with lots of protein.  It was so important to the Incans that in an effort to colonize and control the indigenous population, the Spanish conquistadors would purposely suppress its production and forced Incans to grow wheat.  Today, quinoa is still eaten throughout Peru and has become extremely popular the health world over.

And let’s not forget the other important ingredient I’m using this week that we can thank Peru for, the potato.  That’s right.  As much as we associate (or at least I do) the potato with the Irish, it in fact comes from Peru.  They were first domesticated in southern Peru between 3000 BC and 2000 BC and was one of the most important staples in native diet.  After the Europeans arrived in the Americas, they brought the potato back with them and it became as common there as it was in South America.

Sopa de quinua is a simple and hearty soup made with a quinoa, vegetables in a chicken broth.  It is served throughout Peru especially in the Andes where this hardy plant originated.  The plant is able to withstand the high altitude and is still eaten today in Quechua-speaking homes.  Join me in the kitchen Friday when I make sopa de quinua— hopefully it will inspire you to start using this incredibly healthy and ancient ingredient!

(Images from here, here and here)

{ 8 comments }

thecompulsivetraveler November 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

Your pictures are amazing! I really wish to go there on day.

Karen November 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thank you, but pictures not mine– I wish they were! Beautiful nonetheless though…

Seglare November 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I loved your post – as always. 🙂 The pictures you’ve found are fantastic, too – they only make me want to travel to Peru more (it’s been on my travel-to list for ages, but as a student, I have been postponing any long distance travel for years now).

Looking forward to your sopa de quinua!

Karen November 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Same here! I dream of going to Machu Picchu….

Valerie November 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Such a fascinating history. Can’t wait for Friday… quinoa’s one of my favorites!

Louise November 15, 2010 at 8:13 pm

quinoa is one of those forgotten foods, i love it too… it’s so good for you- i should be eating it more, thanks for the reminder. i can think of a million things to do with those purple potatoes- just roasted some this weekend with root veges, the color was gorgeous.

Kashia November 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I love Peru. I love quinoa, they eat a lot in Chile too. Its so healthful and it picks up the flavor of anything, its a great alternative to rice for a lot of meals 🙂

Lentil Breakdown December 18, 2010 at 2:01 am

I’ve been to Peru and recognize the top photo of the Pisac market. Have been meaning to dig out my photos but they are from before I had a digital camera. Old school! These shots are amazing.

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