Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder

Amaranth, Quinoa, and Corn ChowderPhotographed by David PrinceAmaranth, Quinoa, and Corn Chowder

Ingredients indigenous to the New World, like amaranth, quinoa, and corn, have a natural affinity. In this soup, the amaranth and quinoa add substance and subtle flavor variations to the more familiar taste of sweet corn.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and light green parts)
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (remove “strings” by peeling celery before dicing)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup amaranth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups fresh or defrosted, frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley

    How to make it 

  • 1

    In a large, heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, celery, red bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

  • 2

    Stir in the amaranth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and thyme. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a gentle boil, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

  • 3

    Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, puree 3 cups of the corn kernels with 1 cup of water. When the quinoa has cooked for 10 minutes, stir the corn puree 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 more minutes. When the quinoa is done, there will be no starchy white dot in the center of each grain, and some of the germs’ “tails” may unfurl and float freely. On close inspection, the amaranth will look like tiny opaque bubbles floating on the surface.

  • 4

    Stir in the milk and remaining tablespoon of butter. Divide into portions and garnish each with a little parsley. Serves 6.

Note: The soup thickens on standing; thin as needed with additional milk and add salt to taste.

3 Variations to Try
For dots of color, use 2 tablespoons of red quinoa and a scant 1/2 cup ivory quinoa. Add the red quinoa when you add the amaranth.

Use half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.

Use dried tarragon instead of thyme.

Shrimp, Corn, and Quinoa Soup: Instead of water, use 4 cups of fish or clam broth. Use oregano instead of the thyme. Once quinoa is tender, add 1/2 pound peeled, small shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute. Omit the milk.

© Lorna Sass, Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way, Clarkson Potter (2006)

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