This weekend it finally felt like Fall! A cold front came in on Friday night, and with it rain and cooler temperatures. On Saturday we didn't even reach 70 degrees! It was glorious! Fall is my favorite season and I am always happy when there is that chill in the air, and sweaters and jackets are finally needed.
To digress just a minute and indulge my love of Fall, I'll share a few pictures from a trip Tom and I took to Belgium and Luxembourg a few years ago. The leaves were in the peak of color and it could not have been more beautiful.
Now back to our regular programming here in Austin….. There are no leaves in color, but the chill was so nice that despite the rain, I went for a little walk/run at Zilker park. I came home wet and a bit chilly. I made this chowder/stew/soup a day or so before and it was the perfect late lunch for a Fall day. It is thick and substantial (it gets thicker as it sits in the fridge….so its more soup the first day, more stew as a leftover), and you'll never miss the meat. It has a good hit of cumin which is a nice warming spice. It has a good amount of spinach without being overly "green." It is substantial and filling, with both sweet potatoes and quinoa.
If you're new to quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah), it is a whole grain that has been all the rage the last couple of years. Here is site dedicated to quinoa. If you "ask the google" the health benefits of quinoa you'll get lots of sites. I like this one. The bottom line is that is it a whole food that is a great source of protein. It is indeed still a big dose of carbohydrate so without something substantial with it, I am starving in a hour. (Just like when you eat that big bowl of rice with Chinese food!) The feta cheese in this recipe gives the added fat and staying power that I need. I hope you will try it, and warm yourself up for Fall! Let me know if you like it as much as I did.
(Note: this recipe is also adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.)
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chowder with Spinach and Feta
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: entree soup/stew feta cheese sweet potatoes quinoa spinach
Ingredients (4 large servings)
- 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 quarts water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 bunch green onions, with about 1/2 the green parts, sliced
- 1 large bunch of fresh spinach, stems removed, washed, and cut up (alternately use one small plastic tub of pre washed baby spinach)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Put the quinoa and water into a soup pot and and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Drain, and SAVE the liquid. Set aside the quinoa. Measure the liquid and add water to equal 6 cups. (You shouldn't need much.)
Add the olive oil to the soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cumin, 1 tsp salt, and the sweet potatoes. Stir well for a minute or so. Add the reserved quinoa cooking water and half of the green onions. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach, and remaining green onions and cook about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and feta. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.