Quinoa Vegetable Soup

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Dump it and forget about it (NO pre-cooking anything) crockpot chicken, quinoa, and vegetable soup. A great way to use leftover veggies! Recipe via chelseasmessyapron.com

This Quinoa Vegetable Soup is the tastiest soup AND it’s loaded with good-for-you, powerhouse ingredients. This soup boasts a deep rich flavor with a hint of spice and wonderful savoriness. An array of veggies with succulent shredded chicken, tender quinoa, and a phenomenal spice blend! You can prepare this hearty meal in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or slow cooker (Crock-pot).

Try some of our other favorite quinoa soups like this Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup, Crockpot Chicken Quinoa Soup, and Healthy Minestrone Soup.

Quinoa Vegetable Soup in a bowl

Can You Put Quinoa In Vegetable Soup?

A resounding yes, and you’ve got to try it — particularly in this very Quinoa Vegetable Soup! While we’re nothing short of obsessed with this plain Vegetable Soup, adding quinoa is a fun way to change things up a bit and boost the nutrition. 

If you have ever tried quinoa in soup instead of barley or rice, you know what a great replacement it is for either. Quinoa is a great grain to add to soup because it takes on the flavors of surrounding ingredients and gives the soup a wonderfully thick and hearty texture.

Also, adding quinoa to a soup recipe makes the soup more satiating. This is because quinoa is packed with plant-based protein that helps you feel more full for longer. And especially when there is also chicken in the soup! Of course, you can make this quinoa soup chicken-free if you’d prefer a vegan or vegetarian version, but my family does love it with the chicken.

QUICK TIP

Love quinoa? Us too! Check out our collection of all-time favorite Quinoa Recipes!

Process shots: Saute onion, carrot and celery; add tomato paste and garlic, plus seasonings.

How To Make Quinoa Vegetable Soup

This recipe is meant to be easy. It can be made on the stovetop, in the slow cooker, or in a pressure cooker! To maximize flavor and ensure veggie tenderness, you’ll want to use a slow cooker or pressure cooker that has a sautéing function. If not, you can sauté everything in a skillet and transfer.

  • Sauté. Sauté the mirepoix (carrot, celery, and onion) in olive oil. Then we add in garlic, tomato paste, and all the seasonings. This is the “secret” to unlocking loads of flavor. Don’t skip or rush past this part and you’ll be rewarded with a deeply flavorful soup!
  • Slow cook or pressure cook. Next up, add everything else in, including the uncooked quinoa and uncooked chicken. That’s right — the slow cooker or pressure cooker will do all that work for us!
  • Enjoy! Once the Quinoa Vegetable Soup is done cooking, you can remove the chicken and give it a quick shred with 2 forks then return it to the soup. Ladle into bowls, add some toppings, and enjoy this tasty meal!

Process shots: sauté the mixture; add tomatoes, corn, beans, orange juice and bay leaves to the crock pot.

Quinoa Vegetable Soup FAQs

1Can I use quinoa in soup instead of barley?

It depends on the specific recipe, but usually, you can replace quinoa in almost any recipe where farro, bulgur, barley, or another grain is being used.

2Can you add uncooked quinoa to soup?

Yes! No need to cook it beforehand!

3Is quinoa healthier than rice?

Quinoa is very nutritious — it’s full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. From purely a calorie perspective, one cup of cooked quinoa has approximately 40 fewer calories than an equal amount of white rice. From more of a nutritional profile, white rice has almost 15 times more grams of carbohydrates while quinoa provides 5 more grams of fiber and double the protein.

4What vegetables are good for soup?

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s a great one to play around with veggies. Here are some other veggies you may consider adding:

  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen shelled edamame
  • Diced bell pepper
  • Diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash (very small pieces so they’ll get tender in time!)
  • Coarsely chopped frozen broccoli
  • Baby spinach (stir through at the end)

5Does quinoa get mushy in soup?

Unlike pasta or rice which bloat and tend to break down in leftovers, quinoa fairs quite well. It will continue to soak up surrounding liquid, but the texture doesn’t change too much — it’s soft, but not mushy. We love leftovers of this soup (thinned with some extra chicken stock!)

6Can you freeze soup with quinoa?

Unfortunately soups with quinoa don’t tend to retain their texture through freezing, thawing, and reheating.

Process shots: add chicken stock; remove chicken and shred; return to the pot.

VARIATIONS

Variation Ideas

  • For a fall Quinoa Vegetable Soup try this Butternut Squash Chili instead or add some in-season fall produce to this soup.
  • Stir through 2 cups of coarsely chopped baby spinach at the end for more greens and nutrition!
  • Replace the pinto beans with drained and rinsed white beans or chickpeas.
  • Try this soup with a different variety of quinoa like garlic-infused quinoa, plain quinoa, or tri-colored quinoa.

How To Top Your Soup Bowl

This Quinoa Vegetable Soup is great right out of the pot, but toppings take it to the next level! Below are our favorites:

  • Freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (my kiddos love lots!)
  • A scoop of sour cream (lite or fat-free is great) or Greek yogurt
  • A squeeze of fresh lime
  • Fresh herbs like cilantro (or parsley if you don’t love cilantro)


Overhead view of Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Recipe Notes

  • The longer this soup cooks, the more liquid the quinoa absorbs. For a heartier soup, that’s great, but if you want it to remain more brothy, stop cooking as soon as the quinoa has “popped.” How to know when the soup is done? Look for chicken that shreds easily, quinoa that is fully cooked through, and tender veggies.
  • Rinse the quinoa first: Quinoa has a naturally occurring bitter coating on it, called saponin, and needs to be rinsed before adding to the cooker. Many brands of quinoa are pre-rinsed, so check the package to see if that’s the case. If not, add quinoa to a fine-mesh sieve and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear.

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Quinoa Vegetable Soup

5 from 11 votes
This Quinoa Vegetable Soup is the tastiest soup AND it's loaded with good-for-you, powerhouse ingredients. This soup boasts a deep rich flavor with a hint of spice and wonderful savoriness, veggies, shredded chicken, quinoa, and a phenomenal spice blend! You can prepare this hearty meal in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or slow cooker (Crockpot).
Print Recipe

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

5 from 11 votes
This Quinoa Vegetable Soup is the tastiest soup AND it's loaded with good-for-you, powerhouse ingredients. This soup boasts a deep rich flavor with a hint of spice and wonderful savoriness, veggies, shredded chicken, quinoa, and a phenomenal spice blend! You can prepare this hearty meal in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or slow cooker (Crockpot).
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Quinoa Vegetable Soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 220kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $9.93

Equipment

  • 6-quart slow cooker (preferably one that has a sauté function) OR an Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (75g) finely diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup (75g) thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup (65g) sliced celery
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 can (6 oz.; 170g) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5; 411g) fire-roasted crushed (or diced) tomatoes
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (Note 1)
  • 1 can (15.5 oz; 439g) pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups (215g) frozen corn (or 1 can)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) tri-colored quinoa (or plain)
  • 1/2 cup (118g) freshly squeezed orange juice (~1 large orange)
  • 5 cups chicken broth or stock (Note 2)
  • 2 bay leaves

Seasonings

  • 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (Note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon each: chicken bouillon, dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, paprika
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • Optional Toppings: sharp Cheddar cheese, low-fat sour cream, fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges or lime juice

Instructions

  • OPTIONAL (ADDS LOADS MORE FLAVOR! -- See Note 4): In the base of a slow cooker that can sauté, the Instant Pot insert, or a sauté pan: add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add in the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté, stirring frequently until golden about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, tomato paste, and all of the seasonings. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Sauté, stirring frequently until very fragrant and tomato paste starts to darken, about 5 more minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits off the bottom. (Be sure to scrape well on the Instant Pot-- otherwise, you'll get a burn warning.)
  • CHICKEN PREP: Meanwhile, trim the fat off the chicken. If using breasts, cut each breast into 3 large even pieces.
  • SLOW COOKER: (If you didn't use a slow cooker that can sauté), use a spatula to scrape every bit of the contents from the pan into the base of the slow cooker. Add the trimmed chicken, drained and rinsed pinto beans, undrained corn, uncooked (but rinsed - Note 5) quinoa, orange juice, and bay leaves. Pour the chicken stock over everything and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or until chicken is tender and shreds easily and quinoa has "popped" (My slow cooker takes closer to 3 hours.) The longer it cooks, the more liquid the quinoa absorbs which is why I don't recommend cooking on low -- Note 6.
  • INSTANT POT: Turn off sauté function and add the trimmed chicken, drained and rinsed pinto beans, undrained corn, uncooked (but rinsed - Note 5) quinoa, orange juice, and bay leaves. Pour the chicken stock over everything and mix well. Put on the lid, making sure the valve is set to sealed, and cook on manual for 10 minutes. Natural release pressure for 7 minutes and then manually release the rest of the pressure (turn valve to "release").
  • CHICKEN: Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker or pressure cooker. Remove bay leaves and discard. Taste and season if needed with additional salt and pepper -- flavors should sing!
  • SERVE: Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy topped with whatever toppings you like best such as freshly grated cheese, fresh cilantro, fresh lime, sour cream (we use low fat), etc.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Chicken: We definitely prefer chicken thighs -- the meat is much more tender and flavorful. That said, breasts will work too. Cut down breasts into smaller pieces so they'll cook in time.
Note 2: Chicken stock: Chicken stock has more flavor than broth, but either will work. We love and highly recommend Swanson's chicken stock in this soup!
Note 3: Cajun seasoning: We use McCormick cajun seasoning which tends to be a bit milder than other brands. Scale up or down to personal preference. Also note that a lot of cajun seasonings have salt added so you may want less additional salt depending on the brand used.
Note 4: Sautéing: The quick sauté of veggies and tomato paste adds amazing flavor and depth to the soup. It also ensures the veggies are tender at the same time as the chicken and quinoa. If you opt to not sauté, you may want some extra seasonings and be sure to very finely dice the carrots, onion, and celery. (If you chose to skip this sauté step, simply add all those ingredients to the slow cooker or Instant Pot.)
Note 5: Rinse quinoa: Quinoa has a naturally-occurring bitter coating on it, called saponin, and needs to be rinsed before adding to the cooker. Many quinoas are pre-rinsed, so check the package to see if that's the case. If not, add quinoa to a fine-mesh sieve and rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear.
Note 6: Additional liquid: Quinoa will continue to absorb liquid as long as there is liquid to absorb! When cooking this soup on low or in the Instant Pot, it does absorb more liquid, making this more of a stew than soup (we still think it's so tasty!) If you'd like the soup thinner, simply stir through some additional chicken stock (to individual bowls) at serving time.
Note 7: Quinoa Vegetable Soup calories: Calories will vary, depending on toppings you add to the soup. Current calculations are for the soup without toppings.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 23.5g | Protein: 17.2g | Fat: 7.2g | Cholesterol: 56.4mg | Sodium: 661.4mg | Fiber: 4.6g | Sugar: 7.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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56 Comments

  1. Chelsea, I love how packed with veggies this recipe is! Besides that, there’s the added bonus that it’s a slow cooker recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This was so good!! Thank you thank you for your slow cooker recipes– and love that you showed us how to do soup in a slow cooker!! I subbed in black beans for corn (we don’t like corn around here) and made a couple of other tweaks, but the base of the soup is so good and filling! With tons of cilantro and tortilla chips, my husband and I liked our bowls clean last night. 🙂

    1. I am so thrilled to hear you’ve been enjoying my slow cooker recipes! 🙂 So glad this soup was enjoyed!! Thank you so much for the comments Rachel 🙂

    1. Thank you Sara!! Chicken seasoning is just a dry mix of herbs and spices that really season chicken well 🙂 I like to use a pre-made blend usually; right now I use a chicken seasoning made by Mrs. Dash (just near all the other seasonings in the store). If you want, you can also make your own. Here is a recipe I have used before and love: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/174452/chicken-seasoning-blend/

  3. Hi Chelsea. This looks so yummy. I’m wondering… is it freezable? I’m guessing yes, but maybe leave the quinoa out and add it to the crockpot…?

    1. Hi Randi! I’ve never frozen this so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should be just fine if the quinoa is kept separately 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. Hi, I’m just wondering what sized cans you used for the pinto beans, corn and diced tomatoes as our grocery store has different sizes for each. Thanks.

    1. Of course! Beans – 15 ounces, tomatoes – 14.5 ounces, and corn 15 ounces. Anything similar to those amounts should be fine. 🙂

  5. Hi Chelsea! This soup looks amazing, especially with colder weather now thankfully here. I was wondering if this would work in a dutch oven as well? Would you recommend cooking the quinoa and everything the same way? Thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Jen! 🙂 I definitely think it would do well in a dutch oven. If you want a quick soup, I’d cook the quinoa and chicken separately, saute the veggies in the dutch oven and then add it all into the dutch oven at once, heat, and enjoy.

  6. Hi! If I wanted to cut the recipe in half do you think that would work or should I adjust it differently than just straight in half?

  7. Hello Chelsea,

    I follow you on Pinterest and added this to my To Try board. My mom went on vacation so my fiancé and I are bringing the ingredients to cook for my father tomorrow. I’m excited to try it! Thanks for all great recipes ?

  8. Just wondering. I have some left over chicken and would love to make this. How should I go about cooking this. Should I still put in the chicken first or wait because it’s already cooked chicken??!!

  9. 5 stars
    This is a FABULOUS recipe! I have literally shared this with a dozen friends and family so far. This will for sure be in the regular rotation of winter meals!

  10. 5 stars
    I have meal prepping since Jan. 2016 for my work lunches. Hands down this is the best healthy and filling recipe that I have used. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Has this recipe been modified or removed. I’m trying to PIN it to my board in Pintrest and I keep getting an error, This is not a valid image.

    1. No, it hasn’t. I know Pinterest just updated a bunch of things and also changed their pinning extension so it might just be some of those things still working out. If you try clearing your cache that could help too 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    making this tomorrow.. in the slow cooker do you cook the quinoa first? or put it in dry? Might be a silly question but I’m new to cooking!

    1. Not a silly question! You can put the quinoa in dry for this recipe and it will cook in the slow cooker. Enjoy!

  13. I am interested in the nutritional components of the soup. What are the calories, fat, carbs and protein, if you know. Thanks. I made it yesterday, just tasted it, delicious.

  14. Hi Chelsea! What a delicious-looking recipe! I’m planning on making it soon but need to cut the recipe in half. How would the cooking times vary, if they would? TIA!

      1. 5 stars
        I finally made it tonight after following the recipe to a T. It turned out to be absolutely bowl-licking delicious! This recipe will definitely be family fave from on!

  15. 5 stars
    This was AMAZING! Thank you so much! I made it for my in-laws and husband. They all loved it. It was super easy too. I put it in the crockpot for 2 hours and it came our perfect. I love the cilantro, lime, and sour cream to add for garnish. Am saving this recipe for sure!

  16. Wondering if the cooking time would change if I used chicken breasts instead of thighs? Also, since the quinoa is already mixed in, will it not freeze well?

    1. Yes unfortunately not a great candidate for freezing; the quinoa will continue to bloat and expand. Chicken breasts will take longer; I’d recommend cutting them down (3-4 pieces per breast) first so they’ll cook in time.

  17. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Has great flavor! I think the video skips a step or two (like adding the tomato paste and garlic), so good to also reference the ingredient list.

  18. 5 stars
    Hey, Chelsea!

    This delicious recipe is a fall staple in our home and I cook it on demand! It’s just perfect…the taste, texture, hearty and comforting. Thank you!

    Is there someway to update the recipe to an instant pot version? Would you mind very much and give instructions for that, if possible?

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