Friday, March 21, 2014

Lost Week & Sickie Soup

Last weekend I caught a cold, and I spent all this week alternately on the couch and curled up in my red chair, trying like hell to keep both sides of my head reasonably clear of gunk. (Don't you hate that, when one nostril is completely stopped up and the other one is fine? Uggggh.) I got to do some reading and some movie-viewing, and I watched enough MST and Rifftrax to actually get kind of tired of Bill Corbett's voice.

No real writing got done, although I finished a small secret project and got a (pretty much expected) rejection.

I also basically lived on the soup outlined below. Several other people I know (in various places in the country) are sick right now, so I thought this might be of help. It's from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which is an indispensable book in my kitchen, but I've modified the recipe a good bit. (Hopefully enough to avoid copyright issues. I've bought three copies of this book as gifts, so...are we cool, Deb?)

It makes a big batch, way too much for two, really. I don't think it'd freeze that well, but you could try it. It's great for sick folk because it's so nutritious (quinoa is a complete protein) without being thick and heavy, and the zip from the jalapenos helps clear out clogged sinuses.

Quinoa Chowder

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups broth or stock of your choice
     (I use vegetable broth, the kind in cartons)
2 tsp chopped garlic or 2 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely diced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes*
1 bunch scallions/green onions, including
     an inch of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds
3 cups roughly chopped spinach (eyeball this - a few handfuls)
4 oz cubed feta cheese
1-2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
chopped cilantro (optional)
salt and pepper

Put the quinoa and 2 quarts water in a soup pot, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Set aside 4 cups of the cooking water.

Wipe out the pot carefully and heat the oil in it over medium. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the cumin, 1 tsp salt, and the potatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring. Brown the stuff if you like, but don't let it over-brown or burn. Add the 4 cups of quinoa water, 2 cups of broth, and half the scallions. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the quinoa, spinach, and the rest of the scallions and simmer until the quinoa is completely cooked and the spinach is cooked but has not lost its bright green, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, season with pepper, and stir in the feta. Add 1/3 cup cilantro if desired; if you have someone in your household who does not like cilantro, buy the stuff in a tube and add a little squirt of it to your bowl after serving. You won't be sorry. Add chopped egg to each bowl as desired.

*The recipe calls for boiling potatoes, but they don't sell those individually at my grocery store, so I used russet, or the standard baking potato. It was fine. The average russet potato is a pound, so, half a potato.

Note: if you're not familiar with quinoa, do NOT skip the rinsing step! Quinoa has a bitter coating and if you cook it without rinsing it, blecch.

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