Peruvian Quinoa Corn Chowder

Favourites, Gluten-Free, Soup, Travel, Vegan

Peruvian Quinoa Corn Chowder
In the summer of 2007, I escaped to Peru for a few weeks of adventure. Peru truly offers the best of all worlds… the beautiful coastal desert, the breathtaking Andes and the mysterious Inca ruins, and of course, the mesmerizing amazon jungle.

On the way to Lake Titicaca and Cusco, our group spent a couple of days in the charming colonial city of Arequipa. One evening, we decided to try the restaurant of the Santa Catalina Monastery for dinner.

It is there that I had a wondrous, creamy yet light, quinoa corn chowder. It was so tasty that I fanatically pulled the journal from my bag to write down the ingredients, so as to recreate it in Toronto. A year and a half later, this is my first attempt.

Peruvian Quinoa Corn Chowder

  • 2 tbsp butter* or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup amaranth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup whole milk* or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley, for garnish

In a large pot, sauté the leeks, celery and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter for about 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Stir in the amaranth with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and thyme and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée 3 cups of the corn with 1 cup of water in a blender or food processor. When the quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, stir the corn purée and remaining whole corn kernels into the soup. Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa and amaranth are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the milk. Divide into portions and garnish each with finely chopped parsley.

Note: For a vegan version, replace the butter with olive oil, and use soy milk instead of whole milk.

Serves 6-8. Recipe adapted from Lorna Sass’ Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way.

7 thoughts

  1. I have been wanting to make this for quite a while and I finally did! It is delightful…and filled to the brim with goodness. I am very happy with this and hope to make it several times over. I like it with and without the addition of the milk. I used vegetable broth for the cooking liquid and added a few bay leaves as well. Wonderful!


  2. I too was in Arequippa about a year ago and had this delicious quinoa soup. I have been looking for a recipe off and on ever since. I hope to try this soon. The soup I had seemed to have only quinoa – is the amaranth really necessary?


  3. Hi Eva,

    Thanks for visiting! The amaranth thickens the soup and gives it a creamier texture.

    This soup is really delicious, but still not what I was hoping for in comparison with what I (and you) tasted in Arequipa. I recall small chunks of cheese…

    Will have to get back to experimenting!

    Marie-Ève 🙂


  4. This sounds like a really nice way to enjoy some quinoa and some corn!


  5. I made this last night. Subbed 3 cups of water for 3 cups of chicken broth. It was delicious, and felt pretty hearty for what it was.

    Would love to know what kind of cheese was in it.

    Thanks for the recipe.


  6. Great recipe! I love the idea of using pureed corn as a base. I added a good glug of Tapatio hot sauce to the pot before serving. Delicious!


    1. Thanks for the tip, will try next time! Glad you liked it 🙂