From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is a riff, actually more like a personal attempt to duplicate a corn chowder we had in Peru. Unfortunately, the chefs and cooks who fed us so well while we were traveling, were reluctant to share their recipes, and that makes it difficult to come up with truly classic dishes to share with you. The recipe for the soup I'm featuring tonight is based on powers of observation, osmosis and taste memory. It's close to what I remember, save for the fact that the quinoa used in my version of the soup is pureed. Now, I don't want to be nasty about this, but someone near and dear to me dislikes the texture of quinoa, so I had to work around that peccadillo while still providing a flavorful and nutritious soup. Quinoa is an important source of protein in Peru and it, along with potatoes and corn, is used extensively by cooks in the Andes. The grain-like crop, actually a fruit, grows easily on the high, cool slopes of the mountains where it is called the "Mother Grain", and it serves as the base ingredient for many soups and stews made by the villagers. The flake form of the grain looks a bit like oatmeal and it is made by squeezing the grains into flakes. It cooks quickly and can be used as a thickener that also provides some protein. It took a couple of tries, but I finally came up with the recipe you see below. I liked the soup well enough to share with guests on Thanksgiving Day. They enjoyed it and I think you will too. Here's the recipe.
Andean-Style Corn and Quinoa Chowder...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1/3 cup flaked quinoa
2 cups water, divided use
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
2 to 3 teaspoons aji chile powder or sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt + salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + pepper to taste
4 cups corn kernels, thawed if frozen, divided use
3 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cream
1) Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in quinoa flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
2) Melt butter in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan. Add onions, celery and bell pepper and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in cumin, chili powder, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook 1 minute longer.
3) Scrape quinoa into a blender jar. Add 3 cups of corn and 1 cup of water and puree. Add more water if necessary to achieve a thick but smooth consistency.
3) Transfer quinoa to pan containing vegetables. Add chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add reserved 1 cup of corn and cream and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. Yield: 6 servings.
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