An “empty out the fridge” kind of soup — use your favorite veggies, add some quinoa + chicken, and finish it with a delicious spice blend. Healthy and hearty with all the ease of being slow cooked (dump it and forget about it meal). You know those vegetables that are left over from the last soup or dinner you made? The ones that tend to sit in the bottom drawer of your fridge just *waiting* to be made into something delicious?
Because you always have good intentions for the leftover vegetables right? I always have those good intentions and then somehow I seem to find a few completely wilted celery stalks and some less than firm avocados (okay fine. squishy and brown beyond any desire to eat) in the bottom of the fridge. And honestly I hate wasting food. I mean who doesn’t, right? And that is why this soup has become a favorite as of late. It’s totally customizable to keep any of your vegetables going to waste. It’s one of those recipes that makes you feel good in the “I just used the last bits of random veggies in the fridge” kind-of-way.
And THEN, you taste the soup, and it’s a whole new level of excitement. Because this soup is not only keeping you from wasting any small amounts of veggies, but it’s also tasty, filling, and very healthy.
We’ve made this soup a few times now always using different vegetables. You can pretty much chop up and add just about whatever you have on hand or whatever you like.
My favorite combos always start with celery, carrots, and onion (chopped super fine and the husband can’t even tell there are in there (he’s not an onion fan)). If you add in the carrots slice them thin and small to get them tender in time with the other ingredients. And basically any other vegetable you add — make sure it’s chopped or sliced into pretty small bits so it can get cooked through in the time the chicken and quinoa is cooked in.
We’ve also tried both chicken breasts and thighs. The thighs result in a more tender (and a bit more flavorful) meat, but both will work. If you use chicken breasts, slice them into large chunks (about 3 chunks per breast) to help the chicken cook evenly with everything else.
Since quinoa absorbs liquid like crazy, I’ve found it’s best to only use the high setting when cooking this soup. Cook this soup on low and it turns into more of a stew (also good, just depends on what you like.) For a very brothy soup, you can always add in more broth and make sure to cook it just until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
And (when will I ever stop making excuses for my videos? ?) just because the video is missing a few ingredients (the tomato paste and minced garlic) don’t leave those out ingredients out! Sometimes (okay pretty much every single video) I think I hit record and then find out later I never did. Either that or my memory card suddenly filled up and it stopped recording. OR my battery died. Or, I just don’t even know. Sometimes recording myself adding things to the crockpot is harder than it sounds. ?
- 1 pound (~2 large) boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4-6 thighs
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 can corn
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup sliced celery 2 stalks
- 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
- 3/4 cup quinoa I use garlic infused packet
- 1/2 cup orange juice or extra broth
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 5 cups chicken broth or stock
- Seasoned salt and pepper
- 1-2 leaves bay
- 1 teaspoon chicken seasoning blend or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning*
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Toppings: low-fat sour cream, fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges or lime juice
- Trim the fat off the chicken breasts or thighs. If using breasts, cut each breast into 3 large even pieces.
- Place the chicken breasts or thighs in the bottom of a large crockpot. I use a 6 quart crockpot.
- Add in the drained and rinsed pinto beans, drained corn, thinly sliced carrots, sliced celery, diced onion, quinoa (rinse if not pre-rinsed to remove the bitter saponin coating), orange juice (or extra broth), undrained can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (such as Ro-Tel), tomato paste, minced garlic, and chicken broth or stock.
- Add about 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (or to taste) and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste), bay leaves, chicken seasoning blend, cajun seasoning, oregano, ground cumin, and paprika.
- Stir and then cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or until the chicken easily shreds and the quinoa has "popped." My crockpot takes about 3 hours. The longer it cooks, the more liquid the quinoa absorbs which is why I don't recommend cooking on low unless you are fine with a stew 🙂
- Remove the chicken and shred. Return to the crockpot.
- Remove the bay leaves and then enjoy the soup topped with optional toppings such as fresh cilantro, fresh lime, sour cream (we use low fat), and additional cajun seasoning, salt, pepper.
For a "brothier" soup just add a few extra cups of chicken broth to desired preference! *I use McCormick cajun seasoning which tends to be a bit more mild than others. Scale up or down to personal preference.
Here are some more delicious crockpot soup recipes: