By Gail Gordon Oliver

When the weather gets cool, I whip out the soup pot. I enjoy tinkering with various ingredients and I’ve taken my love of quinoa to a new level by adding it to soups. As a complete protein, this “ancient grain” can turn any soup into a nourishing one-pot lunch or dinner. I like to use a combination of white and red quinoa for both looks and texture: White quinoa softens and pops open more than the red does and I find the softer white seeds (yes, quinoa is a seed, not a grain) combined with the more al dente red seeds to be delightful. I’ve also taken to putting turmeric into almost everything I make, from soups and vinaigrettes to stews and more; studies have shown it to contain powerful anti-inflammatory, and possible cancer prevention, agents.

If you’d prefer more of a stew-like consistency than a soup, simply increase the volume of quinoa called for to one cup.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Roasted vegetables

1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut in 1/2-inch chunks

4 medium carrots, cut in 1/2-inch lengths

1 large parsnip, cut in 1/2-inch lengths

2 tbsp grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

pinch ground cayenne, plus more if desired

2 tbsp grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 tbsp tomato paste

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

Roast the vegetables: Line the bottom of a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash, carrots, parsnip and oil to coat well. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake in a 425o F oven until the vegetables are lightly caramelized on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes.

Make the soup: While the vegetables are roasting, in a small dish, add the garlic, thyme, turmeric, coriander, nutmeg, salt, black pepper and cayenne; set aside. In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seasonings mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated well, about 1 minute.

Stir in the broth. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and the roasted vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the quinoa seeds have softened and opened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
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