Smoky Mexican Quinoa Soup

Here’s a quick weeknight supper which is smoky, spicy, packed with flavour and very filling.  (Oh and it’s really good for you too – bonus!).  Your taste buds will be transported to Mexico with every spoonful, thanks to the chipotle and smoked paprika, coriander, lime and spring onions.
The star of the show here is black quinoa, with its earthy, sweet flavour.  It is classed as a ‘complete protein’ containing 8 essential amino acids, and its delicious flavour and soft texture make it a perfect alternative to rice, pasta and cous-cous.  It really bulks out this soup into a meal in itself – perfect for a speedy and satisfying dinner.
20160523-DSC_0010Holland & Barrett have recently brought out a full range of ‘Ancient Grains‘, which includes amaranth, freekeh, bulgar wheat, buckwheat, spelt, teff, and both red and black quinoa.   From porridge to salads to risotto, there are so many ways to experiment with these gorgeous grains, and I’ve really enjoyed trying them out over the last few weeks.
I served this smoky soup with chunks of avocado on top, and a side serving of tortilla chips for dunking….  delicious!
You should always rinse quinoa really well before cooking, and that’s even more important with red and black quinoa.  The grains are naturally coated with a chemical called saponin as they grow, which can be a bit of an irritant to the gut, and tastes bitter.  Whilst most of this is removed in processing, it is always a good idea to give it a thorough rinse at home before cooking.  Use a fine-meshed sieve rather than a colander, or the quinoa will mostly end up down the sink.


  • 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp lazy garlic (or 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed)
  • bunch fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • 75g black quinoa
  • 1 lime


  1. In a large saucepan or casserole dish, heat the oil and add the red onion. Cook for 3 minutes until starting to soften, then add the pepper, spring onions, garlic and the coriander stalks (save the leaves for garnish at the end), and finally the chipotle paste and smoked paprika. Cook for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, then re-fill the empty tin with water, tip it in to the soup, and re-fill for a second time so that you have added two tins of water. Add the sugar and salt and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Put the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Use your fingers to move the grains around quite vigorously, then when the water has turned soapy, drain through a sieve, then rinse again under the tap.
  4. Add the quinoa to the soup, and cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. Serve garnished with the chopped coriander leaves as a garnish, and a wedge of lime to squeeze over the soup.