I’ve made this soup about three times over this autumn–winter period. It’s a lovely, hearty meal, thanks to the amaranth. Amaranth is not very commonly used these days but it has been around for centuries. I’m fascinated with it because for its tiny size, it packs a mighty punch — lots of nutrition and lots of taste — and is gluten-free.
Amaranth has slightly nutty and sweet taste, which I find delicious. But because the taste is quite strong — stronger than most commonly used grains — I mix it with other ingredients (like in this soup, I’ve used it with plenty of vegetables and stock). Same with the flour — I like to mix it with others when using it for baking.
Amaranth soaks quite a bit of water. One cup of grains will need about 3 cups of water and 30 minutes cooking time. When cooked the seeds become slightly opaque. It can be cooked like a porridge too, and popped like popcorn.
So where can you buy amaranth? You should be able to get from most health food stores and organic stores. You don’t want the puffed amaranth, though. If you have trouble finding it, just use some quinoa or brown rice instead, keeping in mind that brown rice will take longer to cook.
- 6 small dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
- 1 ½ tsp dried chilli flakes, or to taste
- 1 small knob (20 g) ginger, peeled and minced (or finely grated)
- 1 small knob (15 g) fresh turmeric, minced (or use ½ tsp dried turmeric)
- 2 cups (250 g) sweet potato, diced into small cubes
- ½ cup amaranth grains
- 8 medium (150 g) mushrooms, diced
- 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 small bunch (180 g) Tuscan kale, finely shredded
- pepper and sea salt, to taste
- squeeze of lemon juice, to your taste
- 1 tbsp tamari or shoyu
- small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
Soak the shiitake mushrooms in a cup of freshly boiled water and set aside for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prep all the veggies as directed in the ingredients list.
Drain the shiitake mushrooms (but reserve the water), and remove the woody stems before finely dicing. Set aside mushrooms and mushroom water until needed.
In a large, heavy-based pot, heat the coconut oil and sauté the onions celery and chilli for a couple of minutes, then add the ginger and turmeric. Continue to sweat for a few more minutes, Then stir in the sweet potatoes, amaranth and fresh mushrooms.
Now, add your stock, mushroom water and shiitake mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Next, pour in the coconut milk. You can also add some sea salt here. After about 10 minutes, add the kale and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning to your liking (use tamari here if you’d like to). Turn off heat and add freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh coriander (if using) before serving.
- Another vegan variation — instead of fresh mushrooms, add 1 cup cooked chickpeas when adding the kale
- Carnivore —500 g chicken breast, diced, when adding kale. Make sure it gets fully cooked. You can also use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock and add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce at the end of cooking.
- Different grain — you can use the same amount of quinoa instead. Just make sure you wash the quinoa thoroughly
- Sweet potato — pumpkin
- Tuscan kale — silverbeet (Swiss chard) or spinach