I am a soup fanatic. It has always been my favorite food regardless of the time of year. I’m one of those people who tends to feel cold even in the summer (air conditioning), and a big bowl of soup always helps me warm up.
There are a lot of great soup-makers in my family: my mom, my aunt, my late grandmother, my dad, and my husband (best chicken noodle soup EVER, hands down…sorry Grandma). Since I’ve really only been making my soups from scratch for a couple of years now, I’m not adding myself to that list just yet…but maybe after many more years of practice I’ll be able to.
Chicken noodle soup is my favorite.
Most people love chicken noodle soup, but I am like a chicken noodle soup connoisseur. I order it everywhere I go that has some variation of it on the menu, whether it is a diner or a fancy restaurant. I started making my recipe from one of Anne Burrell’s recipes, and tweaked it over many tries until I made it my own.
However, since I am trying to eat more whole grains now and reduce my intake of white and gluten-containing products (noodles), I’ve had to get more creative with the noodle aspect of my soup recipes. I’ve tried gluten free noodles (I like the ones made from brown rice flour the best), rice, lentils, etc.; but my favorite way to eat chicken soup without using white pasta is to use quinoa: hence the name “chiquinoa”.
What you need for Chiquinoa Soup:
These are the amounts I use for my 5 qt. soup/stock pot (a dutch oven will work fine). Adjust your proportions depending on what size pot you are using. Remember to use fresh, local, organic ingredients when you can.
• 4 bone-in chicken thighs with the skins removed and the fat trimmed (as much as you can)
• 3 carrots diced, chopped, sliced…whatever you like
• 1 small onion or ½ a large onion, diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes (I like grape or plum tomatoes for this)
• 2 stalks of celery, chopped, sliced, diced, whatever (depends on how much time you have and how fancy you want to get)
• 1 tbs extra virgin coconut or grapeseed oil to sauté your veggies
• Filtered water (enough to fill the pot)
• Juice from one lemon (Meyer lemons work great too)
• A bouquet of fresh herbs: I like a little rosemary and a little thyme…about a teaspoon of the leaves or needles of each…more than that can be over- powering.
• 1 teaspoon each of chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and basil
• 2 bay leaves
• Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
• ½ cup of pre-soaked or sprouted quinoa (any variety)
Once you have everything prepped and ready to go, heat your stockpot over a medium flame and add your oil to coat the bottom and the sides up a couple of inches so none of the veggies stick. Once the oil is hot, sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
Then add the herb bouquet and other veggies. Cook them while stirring frequently, for a few minutes until the carrots soften and the tomatoes start to break down. It should smell really good by this point.
Add the chicken and herbs, then add your water. Use at least enough to cover the meat, but add more if there is room. I fill the pot about 3/4 to the top. Raise your temperature a bit and bring it to a boil. While you are waiting for it to boil, juice/strain your lemons.
You can also pour your salt, pepper, and red pepper into a little prep bowl so you can dump it all in. Don’t be shy with the salt, but don’t go overboard…always better to undersalt than oversalt because you can always add more. But a good amount of salt is definitely necessary (a high quality Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt has more flavor and health benefits than other varieties salt—you typically use less of these too).
Once it starts boiling, lower the temperature back to medium. The scum will start to accumulate at the top. Skim it off and discard it. It could take awhile to get it all off, but just do the best you can. Once you have gotten rid of the scum, add your salt, pepper, red pepper, bay leaves and lemon juice. After that point I usually let it simmer on a medium to low flame (you want it still lightly bubbling) for at least an hour—taste it after an hour and see if it needs more time. Cook longer if necessary, or add more seasonings.
When you think it is done, remove the chicken, the bay leaves, and herb bouquets. Let the chicken cool and then take the bones out and either dice or shred the meat…I just shred it to save time. Before you add the meat back in, go through with a skimmer of some sort…I use a large, flat spoon with little holes in it…to skim out any bones that may have come off. Take time doing this…it is important. Throw out anything that looks yucky. Thighs have larger bones than breasts and leave less mess in the soup…with breasts you get lots of tiny rib bones. Then you can add the meat back in along with your cooked quinoa. This soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days, or can be frozen in glass storage containers for future use.
To make the quinoa:
Bring 1 cup of filtered water (or broth from the soup) to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add your quinoa, bring back to a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. It will be done in 15 minutes. Only add enough cooked quinoa to the soup for the servings you need…store any extra in a covered container in the refrigerator for future use.
Serve and enjoy!
*Quinoa image from SquawkFox.