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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Corn Chowder with Amaranth and Quinoa

Recipe: Corn Chowder with Amaranth and Quinoa
by Victoria Challancin

In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I have lived for twenty two years, we have always had access to organically grown vegetables. In spite of the fact that many herbicides and pesticides that are banned in the United States find themselves "relocated" in Mexico and other countries, many small farmers do not have the financial resources to avail themselves of chemicals. Because of this, the happy result is that chemical-free vegetables have been always been available here. But in the past several years, organic farms have sprung up all over Mexico, with a great deal of effort being made to adhere to the strict requirements required of true organic farming. Stores and co-operatives featuring the vegetables and products such as cheese, wine, preserves, and grains, are also thankfully coming into their own as well. At last, the organic food movement has taken hold. And in my cooking classes, I try to focus on as many of these products as I can.

Recently, when I came upon a variation of this recipe on, I knew I had to check out the original recipe from Lorna Sass's wonderful Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way (Clarkson Potter, 2006), available here. This simple, healthy recipe was perfect for one of my classes. Sass says that the New World ingredients such as amaranth, quinoa, and corn have an affinity for each other. And in this recipe, they positively shine. To keep this soup truly "New World" in concept, I served it sprinkled with a home-made Mexican ranch cheese and cilantro instead of parsley.

Corn Chowder with Amaranth and Quinoa
(Adapted slightly from a recipe by Lorna Sass, from Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way)

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and light green parts)
1 cup finely diced celery, strings removed
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup amaranth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained*
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only, minced
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
Ranch cheese for garnish

Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder
Photographed by David Prince
Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder
In a large, heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, celery, red bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the amaranth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and thyme. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a gentle boil, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, puree 3 cups of the corn kernels with 1 cup of water.

When the quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, stir the corn puree and remaining whole corn kernels into the soup. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa and amaranth are tender, 3 to 5 more minutes. When the quinoa is done, there will be no starchy white dot in the center of each grain, and some of the germs’ “tails” may unfurl and float freely. On close inspection, the amaranth will look like tiny opaque bubbles floating on the surface.

Stir in the milk and remaining tablespoon of butter. Divide into portions and garnish each with a little cilantro or parsley.

Note: The soup thickens on standing; thin as needed with additional milk and add salt to taste.

* Be sure to rinse the quinoa well before using to remove any of the bitter, naturally-ocurring saponins that coat the seeds.


Zoe said...

Hello, this sounds nice but corn isn't mentioned in the 'ingredients' list so I don't know how much to use.

Ellen Willmore said...

Cooked corn? Fresh corn?

Victoria Challancin said...

Four cups fresh corn kernels total. Frozen would work as well. So sorry about this mistake. Thanks!

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

I always love chowder! I need something like this right now!