This is a model meal for winter comfort and efficient cooking. It's a smoky, hearty, substantial bowl that offers all the elements of a great taco, but in soup form. With the quinoa, sweet potato, ground protein trio for substance, smoky and earthy spices for depth, lime and cilantro for brightness, and toppings for crunch and creaminess, this meal really delivers. Leftovers are just as good and we had plenty of them, which I love.
The weather here in the Bay doesn't follow the expected seasonal patterns. Spring can be pretty and warm, or not. Summer is foggy and windy. Autumn is summer. And winter can range from sunny and colder to rainy and colder. Got it?! Don't worry if not. Eight months after moving here, I'm just now wrapping my head around it enough to attempt sorting my pantry and wardrobe and keeping up with the local seasonal rhythms. Most importantly, I'm coming to terms with the fact that my summer wardrobe looks a lot like my winter one. Smoothies and linen dresses come out in the fall. And this taco soup could very well make an appearance any time of the year.
Whether your weather patterns are backwards like ours or you have just one or two more months left for cold weather comfort food, I hope you can enjoy this Quinoa Taco Soup soon!
Quinoa Taco Soup
Notes: Recipe calls for canned fire-roasted tomatoes. If you can't find them, use regular canned tomatoes and add 2 tsp. chili powder or more smoked paprika for additional smokiness. Recipe offers an option of canned diced green chilies or pickled jalapeno, either of which add mild heat and acidity. If neither are on hand, feel free to add fresh chili in with the onion or hot sauce at the end and more lime, if desired.
2 Tbsp. avocado oil or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
450 gr. / 1 lb. ground protein (tempeh, crumbled or ground turkey)
3/4 cup (140 gr.) quinoa, preferably soaked
3 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 15-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
5 cups / 1.2 L water
1 4.5 oz/ 130 gr) can diced green chiles or 3 Tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeno (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2" bite-size pieces
2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" bite-size pieces
Juice of 1 lime
Toppings: fresh cilantro; toasted pumpkin seeds; avocado, diced or smashed with lemon, salt, garlic powder; sharp cheddar, shredded or cashew cream; hot sauce
Heat a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and onion and stir. Add ground protein of choice and let brown on one side for a few minutes without stirring. Once it begins to brown on one side, sprinkle in spices (smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, and garlic powder). Stir to combine and cook another 1-2 minutes. If the pan dries out add a splash of water.
Stir in tomatoes, water, green chilies and salt. Cover, raise heat to high to bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, covered, before adding sweet potatoes. Cook another 5 minutes, covered, then add bell pepper. Cook 5 more minutes, or until vegetables are al dente and quinoa is soft.
Stir in lime juice. Ladle into bowls and garnish with toppings.