Soup has long been a staple of my family’s palate. As a kid, the pantry had one shelf that was typically loaded with Campbell’s Chicken Noodle, at the ready for weekend lunches or sick days from school, though never for dinner. Dinner was a noble meal for my parents and it would rarely, if ever, come from a can. (My parents both worked. Dad was a self-employed construction sales rep; mom was a teacher’s aide in one of the local schools. I think that even in the late 1980s/early 1990s it was strange to have dinner, straight from the oven/stovetop, in time for the 5 p.m. news. My mother would get home from work around 3 and immediately begin cooking. I realize how odd this entire scenario sounds.) Down in the basement, in one of the multiple freezers we had, were containers of soups ready for a quick dinner.
Soup is one of my favorite things to make. The marriage of all of these complex flavors in one pot is one of those kitchen miracles. You start off with a competition and end up with harmony. It’s really quite a thing.
I came up with this soup recipe on the fly one night. I wanted a creamy tomato soup, but one that could stand on its own. The quinoa adds protein, as well as some bulk. Between the spinach and quinoa, the soup has the weight of a meal to it.
Cream of Tomato Soup with Quinoa and Spinach
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup quinoa (any dried quinoa blend will work; I have used Trader Joe’s seven grain blend, as well as Wegmans‘ bulk quinoa from its Nature’s Marketplace department )
- 1/2 bag of spinach
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tb flour
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 16 oz. chicken broth
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 tb fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup light cream
- Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly, 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Add quinoa and stir. Add spinach in batches as space allows. Stir to mix and return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer. Stirring frequently for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until heated through, 3-5 minutes, and serve.