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El Inca Llora (a song about Peru)
Denise's Recipe for Quinua Soup

Quinua Soup

Quinua ('Kinuwa') is a staple food of the Quechuas in the highlands of Peru. It grows at high altitude and, although it looks like a grain, it is actually a type of fruit. Quinua is high in protein (16 to 20 percent) and is high in cystine, lysine and methionine - amino acids that tend to be low in other grains. It also contains good levels of calcium, iron, and phosphorus, B vitamins and vitamin E.

What follows is my wife, Denise's, recipe for Quinua Soup. It is simple but delicious. Now, Denise is a bioengineer and very precise when she is measuring the density of materials used to make replacement body parts. But cooking is her down-time antithesis to that, so when I asked her about measurement amounts, she gave me answers in "about a fist", or "about half a finger", or "when it looks about right". Be prepared to enjoy the variety of taste results that depend on the size of your fist.

Preparation Time

This is basic soup, so the preparation time depends on how fast you chop the ingredients. The idle time is the time it takes it all to boil, which is about 15 minutes. Allow a half hour or so.

Note that when you cook quinua as a cereal, your ratio of water to quinua is about two to one. However, for soup it should be more like 4 to one or 3 to one if you want the soup to be "thick".

Ingredient List:

about a half a head of garlic a fist of chopped onions a fist of chopped tomatoes a fist of chopped celery a fist of chopped cilantro a fist of carrots (diced or chopped) a fist of chopped potatoes one cup quinua alphabet and/or star noodles bayleaf 6-8 cups water or your favorite stock

Rinse Quinua

Quinua must be rinsed thoroughly before it is consumed. Rinse it as you would rice, by filling a container of quinua with water, swishing it around and pouring out the water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times until the water mixed with the quinua is clear and no longer shows cloudiness.


  • Chop up the garlic, onions, tomatoes, celery, cilantro, carrots and potatoes.

  • In a big soup pot, saute the garlic, onions, tomatoes, celery and cilantro in olive oil.

  • Add 6-8 cups of liquid (water or stock) - depending on how "soupy" you want the results - choose the amount of liquid as a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio of liquid to quinua.

  • When the water starts to boil add the potatoes, quinua, noodles and bayleaf.

  • Allow to boil for about 15 minutes, or until the quinua "pops" (quinua will change from a grain-like, bird-seed appearance to little soft, white rings).