spicy tomato soup with chard and quinoa

A few weeks ago I was soaking some quinoa for soup.

But I didn’t follow it up with a post because I was still wrestling with the recipe.

I knew what I wanted: a protein packed, spicy, chunky, flavorful tomato soup with nourishing dark leafy greens.

You see, I had been thinking about making a tomato-quinoa soup for a while … in part because I don’t love traditional “Campbells-like” thin and runny tomato soup.  I think it’s missing texture … and depth of flavor … and when it’s out of a can, it’s full of BPAs that have leached into the tomatoes.  In addition to all the reports about how BPAs affect hormone levels and might be cancer-causing, a new study from Berkeley shows that it affects thyroid function.  And there’s some preliminary evidence in the same article that shows it can affect brain development in newborns.

In light of this information, we don’t eat canned tomatoes … or much canned anything, these days unless it is fresh out of the garden and into the canning jar ;).

Which brings me to this soup that I’d been dreaming about.

So I went ahead and made my first effort.  And I’ll admit this freely: often times, my first attempt offers me a great opportunity to learn something new.  But this time … I loved the soup.


And so did the Cowboy.

And my niece.

And her boyfriend (fiance, actually … as of about 3 weeks ago!).

And the littles.

But by the time it was clear the recipe was a success, there wasn’t enough soup left to take any photos.

And I wanted to make sure I could recreate the recipe.

And I’m very excited to report that this Saturday, I did it!  And it was JUST as good this second time around!!

serves 6


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (soaked) – NOTE: once the quinoa soaks, it expands.  1 cup gets cooked with the soup, the rest (which turns out to be a little more than another cup) gets cooked in a pot on the side to add if you want a thicker, more quinoa-y soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons to make croutons
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked red pepper
  • 2 lbs Campari tomatoes (quartered)
  • 4 large Swiss chard leaves (with the large center vein removed and chopped into 1 inch ribbons)
  • 1 quart bone broth (or vegetable broth)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 6 thick slices if sourdough bread
  • 1 tablespooon herbs de provence
  • 1/3 cup Manchego cheese (finely shredded)



The Night Before (or early in the morning)

Soak the quinoa.  One and a half cups of quinoa in a class or ceramic container, covered with filtered water (with about an inch more water than quinoa), plus one and a half tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice).  Cover with a clean dish towel, paper towel or cheese cloth and set aside in a warm spot in your kitchen.  NOTE: The quinoa will expand to a little more than 2 cups … only add 1 cup to your soup when the time comes, cook the rest in a saucepan on the side so you can add more to each bowl if you want a thicker soup.)

spicy tomato soup

When you’re ready to start cooking (active cook-time is about 25 minutes)

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  (Not only soaking break down the phytic acid that binds the nutrients to the grain and makes them difficult to digest, but it also eliminates the “bitter taste” that un-soaked quinoa can have.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (this is for the croutons).

Heat a large saucepan on med-high.  Add olive oil and cracked pepper.  Add garlic and onion.  Sauté until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add the tomatoes and let cook down until the tomatoes break down and there’s enough liquid to cover the contents of the pan (about 5 minutes).

Add the bone broth and bring to a boil.

Add 1 cup of the the thoroughly rinsed quinoa.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then cover and lower the heat.  Let it simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes (until the quinoa is thoroughly cooked.  (Use this time to cook the remaining quinoa in a saucepan on the side.  Like rice, quinoa cooks at a ratio of 2:1 … so for example, if there’s a cup of quinoa left, bring 2 cups water and salt to a boil, add the quinoa, lower the heat and cover for 15-20 minutes).

While the soup is simmering, it’s time to make the croutons.

Take the six ½” slices of sourdough bread and brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs de provence and salt and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes.  Turn them over and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and put them in the bottom of your individual serving bowls.

Back to the soup.   Once the quinoa is tender and cooked through, add the Swiss Chard and let it wilt, stirring it into the broth.

Serve the soup over the croutons. In fact, be sure you don’t skip the croutons … the herbs de Provence and the texture of the crunchy bread really make a difference.

Sprinkle with Manchego cheese shavings (to taste … and you don’t have to use Manchego.  Asiago would also be tasty.  Or Parmesan.), and don’t be embarrassed if you want to lick the bowl … or go back for seconds.

NOTE:  The Cowboy likes to add extra cooked quinoa to his bowl, so I generally make an extra cup of quinoa on the side.  It definitely makes the soup more filling.  I like mine “soupier.”

We’re linked up on This Chick Cooks!

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