This classic Ecuadorian soup is made up of ingredients that are typical in the Sierra or the Highlands: quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa), fresh white cheese, achiote or annatto oil, and potatoes. But make no mistake; the simple ingredients come together to make a delicious and powerful soup.
Quinoa, grown in the high altitude regions of South America, has been around for more than 7,000 years and today, the grain-like crop is considered a super food. High in protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, quinoa packs a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals to get you through the day.
The base for this brightly-colored soup is the achiote, or annatto seed oil or powder; a food coloring with a slight nutty flavor. It’s heated through and then sautéed with chopped scallions or onions. Then starchy potatoes (like Idaho or Russet) are added to help the soup thicken. Throw in your favorite cheese, a traditional fresh white cheese, feta, or a creamy mozzarella to personalize it. Let it cook low and slow, allowing the ingredients to blend and create a tasty, healthy, and flu-fighting soup.
Garnish with cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce. Serve with a side of just-toasted bread and let this soup keep you warm all winter long.