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The kitchen remodel is finally over.  The best part?  The counter is now an inch higher, something very tall me appreciates.  My family and I were a few days with no sink or counter-tops and I missed cooking.  Now that the kitchen is back together, I’ve been thrilled to get back to experimenting.  Some experiments have a better result than others.

I’d purchased a new grain a while ago: kañiwa.  I’d never heard of it but thought it looked interesting and bought some.  I figured I’d learn how to cook it once I got it home.  Some research led me to an article on VegKitchen.com where I learned kañiwa was a cousin to quinoa; high in protein and high in iron.  I was especially interested to learn about kañiwa’s iron content as I was diagnosed with fibroids just over a year ago.  Early on, I was concerned it wasn’t possible for my vegan diet to sustain me through the heavy bleeding that comes with fibroids.  Anemia is a very real fear and I really did not want to start eating meat again.  It turns out there are plenty of plant sources of iron-anemia averted-but I’m always looking for more.  With options like kañiwa, I can continue to adhere to the vegan lifestyle I love.

All right, back to cooking.  The same article told me kañiwa could be used interchangeably with quinoa and did not contain the bitter saponins that can make quinoa unpalatable for some people.  I scoured my cookbooks until I found a recipe for vegetable quinoa soup that sounded tasty and set about experimenting.

I planned ahead by soaking Great Northern Beans and cooking them the day before.  When I was ready to make the soup, dinner took less than thirty minutes.

DSCF0039I thought it smelled wonderful.  The ingredients were simple; beans, the grain, frozen organic vegetable medley, broth, salt, fresh-cracked pepper, and a hit of red pepper flakes.  I liked it.  I may have put in too much kañiwa but I prefer stews to soups.  This was nice and thick: excellent for eating with crackers, if so desired.

I served mine garnished with a little avocado and, while the smaller texture of the kañiwa did take some getting used to, I liked the soup.  Which is good, because I have tons of it.  I did mention at the start of this post that some experiments have better results than others: I was the only one in my family that liked it.  My family thought the kañiwa tasted like…well…sand.

So, this recipe won’t make another appearance but maybe I can counter-act the aversion to the texture.  I did read that these smaller grains can be cooked and run through a food processor to make smooth porridge.  As there were no complaints about pleasant, almost nutty taste; I’ll definitely be experimenting with it again.

The avocado garnish; subbing for oyster crackers

The avocado garnish; subbing for oyster crackers

Want to try it?

Great Northern Beans

6 cups vegetable broth

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic

2 cups chopped fresh or frozen vegetables

1 cup kañiwa

Dash red pepper flakes (or two 😉 )

Salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste

Cover the bottom of a stock pot with dried Great Northern Beans.  Rinse beans and then cover with water and soak overnight.  Drain soaking water before cooking.  Cook the day before to get a jump on the meal or plan for cooking time.  It takes about 2 hours at my altitude.

Place the diced onion and garlic in the bottom of a stainless steel stock pot on low to medium-low heat.  Let cook for five to seven minutes, then deglaze pot with a bit of the vegetable broth.  Loosen the onions, if necessary, and add remaining broth.

Add the kañiwa.  Stir in and cook 20 to 25 minutes.

Stir in beans and frozen veggies and let heat through, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the red pepper, salt, and pepper.  Stir and let heat through another 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and enjoy with your favorite garnish and a slice of crusty bread.

This thick soup is satisfying and filling, perfect for a chilly night.