Mexican Quinoa Stew

Do you know what I mean when I say that occasionally I get really enthusiastic about a recipe because it sounds wonderful but almost too simple? Am I about to be taken advantage of here? Am I going to have a mediocre lunch in the end? I may be too pessimistic, but I’ve been let down in the past.

This soup sounded easy to make and delicious, and it turned out to be fantastic! And so simple! The recipe is from the recently released booklet No Excuses Detox: 100 Recipes to Help You Eat Healthy Every Day by my friend Megan. All of the recipes are gluten-free, vegetarian (most are vegan), and have manageable ingredient and preparation lists.

I adore Megan’s method of detoxing; the word generally conjures up images of gruesome juice fasts and drastic measures, but this book is anything but extreme except from the simplicity of the dishes. She offers straightforward, whole-food meals that assist your body’s internal detoxification processes.

She also offers a ton of practical advice on how to eat healthy when you’re strapped for time, money, or energy. In addition to running her blog, cooking books, and greeting card business, Megan also manages to raise two lovely children. She undoubtedly possesses some cunning and doesn’t let justifications stand in the way of her goals. I’m taking notes since I’m the queen of rationalization and overanalysis.

Also read: Quick Dal Makhani

I am especially excited about her pressure cooking advice because I recently gave in and purchased an Instant Pot. (Have any of you tried cooking under pressure yet? I’m afraid. Countless buttons. Next to my hamper, the unopened box is curled up and comfortable.)

Anyway, her book is filled with delicious-sounding dishes that appear to be simple enough to prepare on a busy weekday. This filling quinoa soup from Mexico met all of those criteria. This soup freezes wonderfully, so I may end up eating it every day till spring.

Megan based this dish on chicken tortilla soup but added quinoa and black beans to make it a hearty vegetarian soup. Thanks to several common aromatics, herbs, and spices, it tastes surprisingly tasty and fresh. I like that she made the soup using water rather than veggie broth; this is something to keep in mind for future soup recipes. Please let us know your thoughts.


  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (I opted to use 1 tablespoon olive oil instead)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup quinoa (dry/uncooked)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (for extra heat, optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional garnishes (my ideas): extra chopped cilantro, small wedges of lime, diced avocado, crumbled tortilla chips, grated cheese, sour cream…


  1. In a medium Dutch oven or soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and jalapeños. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the water, tomatoes, beans, cumin, salt, quinoa, cilantro and cayenne pepper (if using). Season with pepper and bring the soup to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Once the quinoa is tender, add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. You can serve this soup right away or use an immersion blender to purée a couple cups of this soup—this helps to thicken the soup while still leaving some texture (I may have overdone it a bit).
  4. Divide into bowls and serve with any garnishes that you’d like. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


MEGAN’S INSTANT POT GUIDANCE: Sauté the aromatics (everything listed in step 1) in your Instant Pot with the olive oil. Add the ingredients listed in step 2. Securely seal the lid according to the manufacturer’s instructions and cook for 8 minutes on high pressure. Allow the pressure to release naturally, then carefully remove the lid. You might want to blend a couple cups of the soup as suggested in step 3. Serve with garnishes of your choice.