Peru for me brings back a soothing nostalgia for me. It is, after all, where I met my husband. When I travelled through Peru some years ago, I was delighted by their many vegetarian meal options. I’m not exactly a vegetarian, but I wasn’t planning to spend my time in Peru eating cuy and alpaca.
The first delightful veggie dish I found everywhere in Peru was sopa de espárrago/asparagus soup. Obviously this dish is not truly Peruvian; however it was my first asparagus experience ever (I was an overly fussy child). And I truly loved the asparagus soup I found throughout Peru. I couldn’t get enough.
My other favourite Peruvian dish was a classic quinoa soup. I can’t even remember the taste well, but I recall eating it often and loving it. Furthermore, during a homestay on Isla Taquile we also enjoyed some delicious quinoa bread, which had the spongey texture of a donut. With a sprinkling of sugar, this bread was rather lovely.
Although I didn’t photograph the lovely soup, here is a picture I found:
Actually, now that I look at this photo, it makes me wonder, that maybe this is the closest recipe…
What recipe? Well, I have been searching for this recipe for many years. A few months ago I found one that required achiote, a spice generally found throughout Latin America. I went to the local Latin grocery store the other day, bought it, and thus, I was ready to prepare the soup!
Now, from what I recall, the soup I had in Peru did not have potato or cheese. However… oh my. These two additions make the soup even more hearty and even more wonderful.
I used feta instead of queso fresco, and my husband often substitutes paprika for achiote if there’s none around.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped finely
- ½ tsp dried cumin
- ¼ tsp achiote paste or paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- 5 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 cup dried quinoa, washed
- 8 cups stock
- 1 cup milk (can be omitted)
- 2 cups feta, crumbled (can be omitted)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 avocado, sliced, to garnish
- Heat oil over medium heat in large saucepan. Add onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, achiote/paprika, oregano, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for about 8 minutes, or until onions are soft.
- Add chopped potatoes and stir well to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add stock and bring to boil.
- Add dry quinoa. Reduce to low heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until quinoa and potatoes are tender.
- Add milk and cheese at this stage (optional). Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Serve topped with sliced avocado.