Chicken, Quinoa and Vegetable Soup
Soups are one of my go-tos for a quick, comforting meal and leftovers are always welcome. This one is packed with protein and vegetables with a pleasantly bright kick from lemon.
Typical of Bay Area winters, the streaky clouds against the sky show no hint of the rain that’s due to come, according to the weather forecast. We’ve had a nice, weeklong break of low 60s temperatures, a good time for my succulents to dry out before getting another soaking.
The dark clouds will most likely roll in during the night and it’s okay because I’m prepared. I’ve got a pot of soup that will be lunch and dinner for the next day or two.
My husband and I have enjoyed several batches of the Thai-Style Chicken Curry Soup I shared recently. This Chicken, Quinoa and Vegetable Soup is just as easy to make and equally comforting. It’s hearty and loaded with all good things so you won’t dread eating leftovers.
Speaking of Leftovers (Cooking Tips/Suggestions)
Because the quinoa thickens the soup considerably as it sits, I usually add more stock and vegetables the next day and season accordingly to bring balance back to the soup.
The amount of chicken I recommend in the recipe has leftovers in mind, too. I prefer shredded chicken to diced so I add the boneless, skinless thighs to the pot uncut. I shred half of the thighs after they have cooked in the stock and leave two alone. I shred the remaining thighs when I replenish the pot with more stock and vegetables. This is what works for me but do what is more convenient for you. Either way this simple but flavorful soup will keep you warm and cozy all [rainy] day long.
Chicken Quinoa and Vegetable Soup
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 sticks celery, chopped
- 1 large tomato (or three small), chopped
- 1/2-2 tablespoons fish sauce (use lower amount and taste at end)
- Few dashes each onion and garlic powder
- 5 boneless, skinless thighs or breasts, left whole (See Note)
- 8 cups low sodium chicken stock (See Note)
- Half bunch kale, roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained (can used cooked) (See Note)
- Juice of one lemon (plus more for garnish)
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Sliced serrano peppers (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for two to three minutes, until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Add the chopped tomato, fish sauce, garlic and onion powder–cook for another two to three minutes, when the tomatoes have begun to break down.
Add the chicken thighs and cook until the exterior surface of the thighs are opaque and/or begin to color. Since the pieces are uncut and depending on the size of your pot, you may need to stir and flip them once or twice in the pot.
Add the quinoa (cooked or uncooked) and the broth. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes then add the chopped kale and parsley. The quinoa will expand and thicken the soup. Pull out three of the chicken thighs, set them on a plate or cutting board and shred them with two forks and return to the pot. You can shred all the chicken if you wish but the meat to quinoa/soup ratio tends to be high when I use all the chicken at once. (See Note)
Simmer for another five minutes, when the kale has wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and taste to see if you feel it needs more seasoning. Serve with lemon slices on the side and Serrano peppers if using.
(This soup reheats well. Since the quinoa continues to thicken as the soup keeps, I add additional broth the next day, shred the remaining chicken thighs and season accordingly.)
Chicken Stock: For this recipe I used four cups (1 carton) Swanson’s Low-Sodium Chicken Broth and four cups (1 carton) Imagine Organic Chicken Bone Broth
Quinoa: Unrinsed quinoa imparts an unpleasant bitter taste when cooked. I highly recommend running through water once or twice before using in this recipe.
Chicken Thighs: You can cut up the chicken thighs before adding to the pot but I prefer the texture and look of shredded chicken. Also, I don’t shred all the thighs at once so the soup is not so heavy on meat. Quinoa continues to thicken the soup as it keeps so I add additional broth and kale when I reheat it. This is when I shred the remaining two pieces of chicken.