This comforting quinoa and cheese soup is a variation of the locro potato soup that I grew up eating in Ecuador. It is made with quinoa, potatoes, cheese, milk, onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, oregano, achiote, and topped with cilantro and avocado. Soup is the answer to all problems, at least that’s the way it seemed when I was growing up in Ecuador: you’re not feeling too well? Eat your soup. You want to get bigger, taller, skinnier, smarter, etc? Eat your soup. You want dessert? Eat your soup. You want to go outside and play? Eat your soup. You would think I would have ended up hating soups, but I actually really enjoy a good bowl of soup. It’s one of those things that I crave when I’m feeling sick and wish my mom lived next door –instead of 4,500 miles away –so that she could make me some homemade soup.
Quinoa and cheese soup recipe made with quinoa, potatoes, cheese, milk, onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, oregano, achiote, and topped with cilantro and avocado.
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 2 cups diced white onion, about 1 large onion
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon achiote powder
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 5-6 potatoes, peeled and cut in small chunks
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, pre-washed
- 8 cups water or broth
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups grated or crumbled queso fresco, can use feta cheese
- 4 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro or parsley to garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Avocado slices and aji hot sauce
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or soup pot.
- Add the onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, achiote, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the chopped potatoes; mix them in until coated with onions and spices. Continue to cook them for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the water or broth, bring to a boil.
- Add the uncooked quinoa, reduce the temperature and simmer until the quinoa and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. For a creamier and thicker consistency you can use a a masher or wooden spoon to crush/mash some of the potatoes.
- Add the milk and cheese, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley, taste and add additional salt/pepper if needed.
- Serve the quinoa and cheese soup with diced or sliced avocado and hot sauce to taste.
The first step to making a good soup is the refrito, also known as sofrito, which is the base of the soup, it consists of heating oil or butter –or sometimes lard – and adding onions, garlic, tomatoes. Other veggies like peppers or celery can also be added depending on the soup. Then you add the spices and seasonings you will use for the soup. I usually add ground cumin and achiote or annatto powder to my refrito. For this quinoa and cheese soup I also added some dry oregano.
This soup has quinoa – which is nutritious and all of that good stuff, but what I like about quinoa in soups is the texture, I love the way the little seeds pop in your mouth. The potatoes, cheese and cilantro are what give it that delicious taste that reminds me of the locro de papas soup. Whenever I make a soup that has potatoes in it, I like to add the potatoes to the refrito and let them cook for just a few minutes so that they get just a little bit browned and then add the water or broth. I used queso fresco, which is fresh Latin American cheese that you can find in most supermarkets, but you can also use feta cheese instead, feta is a little bit more salty so adjust the salt according to your preference. Like many other Ecuadorian soups I served this one with some diced avocado and hot sauce on the side.
Step by step preparation photos for quinoa and cheese soup: