One of the many unexpected joys of living in Germany is that fall here comes much sooner. Like, beginning of September sooner. While some may grumble and complain that their legs aren’t still sticking to vinyl seats or that they have to start wearing close-toed shoes, I relish in the cooler weather! I love all the seasons in different ways and am always grateful for the changes a new season brings, but fall is and has always been my personal favorite.
The arrival of that crisp, autumn air brings with it many changes – no more open windows at night, many more cups of tea (especially in the evening!), and hearty, warm meals like soup! Soup is such a versatile food – serve it hot or cold, make it sweet or spicy, think or brothy, creamy, cheesy – you name it! While some may argue that soup is not a meal, it’s hard to use that argument against one of my new favorite soups – Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa. I’m so excited about this soup that I decided to go ahead and post about it even without photos! It’s just that good.
Like many of the things I create, the original recipe or the source of inspiration came from Pinterest, and while this stew is no exception, it is rather very exceptional. The butternut squash adds just enough creamy texture and earthiness to the soup base to make you feel like its really fall, the kalamata olives add just the perfect amount of briny flavor to make the soup taste slightly exotic, and the protein from the chicken and quinoa help keep you full and happy long after you’ve cleaned your bowl! The creator of this recipe, Dara Michalski, author of Cookin’ Canuck, really struck gold with this one – and I did too when I found it!
Of course, I’m never one for following a recipe exactly to a tee, especially when it includes quinoa. No matter how many times I try it or tell myself it’s good for me, I still can’t say that I like it. The first time I made this recipe, I followed everything exactly, except I swapped the 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa for 1 cup cooked rice. We had some leftover from dinner the night before, so in it went! I noticed that even with the rice having been cooked beforehand, it still soaked up quite a bit of the broth, so fair warning! If you want your broth to be thinner or for there to be more of it, just add more chicken broth to fit your preference. Even with the thicker broth and rice in place of the quinoa, the stew was an instant hit!
Two weeks ago (two weeks already?!), my mom was visiting us after her pilgrimage through Spain – documented in her blog! – and I knew I had to make this soup for her. Luckily the weather was perfect for such a meal; she was here on the coldest and rainiest few days we’ve had so far!
The second time around making this soup, I decided to skip the grains altogether and substitute some beans instead. I went with 2/3 cup kidney beans in place of the 2/3 cup quinoa, and it was still fantastic! My husband said that he preferred the rice, so it’ll go in next time, but now I know that this soup really is quite flexible as far as ingredients go. You could use quinoa, rice, lentils, your favorite beans, other veggies – and as long as you don’t get too carried away, I trust that it’ll still turn out delicious!