Slow Cooker Peruvian Chicken Quinoa Soup

During my travels in Cusco in 2012, I had the joy of sampling the wonderful local cuisine, many of which featured traditional Peruvian staples such as corn, potatoes and quinoa. One dish in particular that I throughly enjoyed was the Chicken Quinoa Soup - a delicious nourishing broth packed full of nutrients made with chicken, quinoa and vegetables. The highland climate in Cusco makes this soup popular among locals and tourists alike, warming you from inside out; it was also my go-to dish to help curb my nausea and lack of appetite as a result of altitude sickness.

Since returning from Peru, I've often reminisced about the soup and a quick Google search took me to Four Fingers Chopsticks who had an easy recipe that I've adapted and made many times over the years. I've recently modified the recipe so it works with my new best friend - the slow cooker. Being a working mum, I've little time on my hands and cooking a meal is the last thing I want to do after a long day at work. With the slow cooker, I can prepare the ingredients the night before, set it on before I head out the door and come home to a warm delicious meal. Less time cooking, more cuddle time with my little one!

  
Slow Cooker Peruvian Chicken Quinoa Soup


Slow Cooker Peruvian Chicken Quinoa Soup (recipe adapted from Four Fingers Chopsticks)

Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 7-8 hours

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1½ tablespoons oil
8 chicken drumsticks, skin and fat removed
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 medium potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
8 cups water
Juice of ½ a lemon

For garnish (optional): ½ cup fresh coriander, chopped


Method:
1. Pre-warm slow cooker on low while preparing the ingredients.
2. Put the prepared ingredients into the slow cooker and cover with lid. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. 
3. Carefully remove chicken drumsticks from slow cooker, cover and set aside until cool. Pull the meat off the bone and discard bone. Shred meat and return to slow cooker. Stir in to heat through.
4. Serve soup hot in deep bowls. Garnish with fresh coriander if desired.


Traditionally, the Chicken Quinoa Soup is spiced with ground aji amarillo, a moderate heat Peruvian yellow chilli though it may not be easily sourced outside of Peru. I've not had any luck finding it in shops so replaced the spice with Cajun seasoning; you can substitute with Cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce if you prefer more kick to your soup. Finding the soup consistency a bit too thick? Gradually stir in some hot water till desired consistency is reached.

With the cold weather looming, now is a good time to break out that slow cooker you've tucked away in your kitchen cabinet. Set it and forget it and be rewarded with a wonderful comfort meal with minimal effort! 

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