Saffron Vegetable Soup with Quinoa
Saffron Vegetable Soup with Quinoa is a hearty vegetarian soup packed with vegetables, chickpeas, quinoa, and plenty of saffron flavor!
Have I got a soup for you today. This soup….oh, is it good. I’m not just saying that because I made it — I’m my own worst critic, you see. But when something turns out right, I’ve got to share it.
This is the vegetable soup of your dreams right here. 🙂
This soup has a story behind it. I’d originally started out with the idea to share a Soup au Pistou, or French vegetable soup with pesto, based off of the first ever recipe we made at cooking school.
I remembered thinking if we ate like that every day, I’d be happy. The food got a lot richer and more caloric naturally, but I never forgot that soup.
The soup had lots of veggies like green beans, zucchini, fresh white beans, potato, pasta, and plenty of saffron. Not to mention a homemade pesto. I made a batch a few weeks ago and realized I don’t really like potato and pasta in my soup too much, and decided to sub them with quinoa.
I was also out of white beans and went ahead and used chickpeas, and I was really lazy, so I just added some chopped fresh basil instead of making pesto. This is the lazy woman’s, gluten-free, rendition of Soup au Pistou.
I’d say long story short, but it’s too late for that. 😉
My version of the soup still has leeks, fresh green beans, zucchini, and some tomato, with plenty of saffron flavor.
The saffron is what takes this soup from ordinary to extraordinary.
Saffron is one of my favorite things to use to make a dish extra special. It’s expensive, at about $7-10 a bottle, but it’s worth every cent. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s, and it contained (3) mini capsules of saffron threads. I used one capsule full, or 2 mega-pinches to get the BIG saffron flavor that I wanted.
Go big or go home, right? 🙂
Funny enough, right before I was ready to go ahead and make my second batch, my Cook’s Illustrated magazine came in the mail. There was a recipe for Soup au Pistou — what are the chances? — and it addressed an “issue” I’d noticed with my soup.
If you don’t use the cooking liquid from dried white beans like the classic recipe, you don’t get that thickness or body in your soup. The magazine stated that by adding canned beans without rinsing them, you could add that body to your soup broth the easy way.
I added the chickpeas and their liquid, and guess what? Those people at Cook’s Illustrated really know what they’re talking about, because it made a huge difference in my soup. Those Cook’s Illustrated folks are brilliant!
If you’re inclined to serve yours with a pesto, go on ahead and use my Spinach Pesto or Basil Pesto Sauce. I thought this soup was just perfect with freshly chopped basil. It added a clean, fresh flavor that didn’t detract from the big saffron flavor I wanted.
This soup will be made time and time again, guaranteed. You know something is special when you look forward to eating it bowl after bowl…and I’m talking about the first night. I had two bowls and I could’ve eaten more! Not because I wasn’t satisfied, but because I never wanted it to end.
It’s definitely the soup of my dreams. 🙂
Saffron Vegetable Soup with Quinoa
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large carrot chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 large celery stalk chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 large leek white and light green parts only, halved, washed, and sliced*
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large zucchini chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 8 ounces fresh green beans trimmed and chopped into 1″ pieces*
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock*
- 2 large pinches saffron or one capsule
- 15 ounces chickpeas and liquid do not rinse!
- 1/2 cup quinoa rinsed
- 1 large tomato seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- freshly chopped basil for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the leek and garlic, and cook 2-3 more minutes or until softened. Add the zucchini and green beans, and sauté 1 minute more.
- Add the broth and saffron, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, chickpeas and their liquid, and cook for 11 more minutes, or until the quinoa is completely cooked. Stir in the diced tomato and salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from heat.
- Serve the soup with the freshly chopped basil and enjoy!
- *If you don’t have leek on hand, substitute with one medium white or yellow onion and cook it with the carrots and celery.
- *You may substitute the fresh green beans for frozen — simply thaw them and add them at the end with the beans and quinoa.
- *I like my soup thick, so I used 4 cups of stock. If you prefer it thinner, use 5 cups.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
35 Comments on “Saffron Vegetable Soup with Quinoa”
You definitely know a recipe is good when you look forward to eating it again! I love that you used quinoa in this soup, I’m always looks for ways to use it 🙂
We’ve all been feeling under the weather this week so soup is exactly what I’ve been craving for. This looks incredible, Marcie! I love the saffron and all the colorful veggies in here! Sounds so comforting and delicious!
This looks great, Marcie! I used to work in a French restaurant, and I always loved stealing slurps of the Soup au Pistou! And such a great trick about the canned beans. I’m doing that next time for sure!
You’ve got me convinced!! This definitely doesn’t look like your run-of-the-mill veggie soup and I am so intrigued by the saffron addition! Definitely giving this beautiful soup a try!
Oh how I love saffron. Such amazing flavor! This soup is just splendid Marcie : )
I want THIS for lunch Marcie! Just gorgeous!
Thank you so much, Trish! I’ve been happily eating it for lunch every day this week. 🙂
OMG yum! Isn’t it amazing how you can add just a thread of saffron to a dish and all is right in the world?! This is the best spin on vegetable soup EVER, Marcie! Pinned!
Saffron works miracles! Thank you for the sweet comment, Justine, and for the pin! Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. 🙂
I love love simple soups like this but fancied up with a rich spice. Adore the use of saffron here Marcie. This is a good comfort soup. Love it.
Thank you so much, Ash! The saffron did fancy this soup up, too! 🙂
Love using quinoa in soups, this one looks so delicious! And the addition of saffron is such a cool idea!
Thank you, Mira! The saffron really made it extra special!
I love cooking, in particular baking, with saffron! A little bit really does go along way and it adds such a rich taste and incredible colour. This quinoa soup looks wonderful Marcie – and perfect for me to make to go along with the cool Autumn weather here in Aus!
I’ve never baked with saffron and I definitely need to try it! Thank you, Thalia! 🙂
Love this vegetable soup! It looks divine, Marcie! I love the saffron!
Thank you, Jess! The saffron really made it special!
This soup looks wonderful Marcie! I haven’t purchased saffron in the longest time because it is so expensive and didn’t realize you could get it at Trader Joes for that price. Will have to look for it next time!
Thank you, Christin! It is expensive and I definitely don’t want to get too attached to it because of the price, but I sure love it! 🙂
This soup looks amazing!! I’ve never really known what to do with saffron other than make paella, so I love this idea. So unique! And anything this chock full of veggies is right up my alley!
Thank you, Jess! I’d put saffron in everything if I wouldn’t go broke doing it. haha
Girl you totally got me at chickpeas. I adore them so much, its like an addiction now. I so need to try this. It looks so rich and comforting.
Chickpeas are like an addiction! When I roast them, I want to eat them all! I’m glad we’re on the same page. 🙂
Thank you, Dannii! And the quinoa really made this soup extra hearty. 🙂
It is a sign — time to splurge! haha Glad you’re on board, and thanks for the pin! 🙂
What an incredible idea of adding saffron to soup. Loved the fact that you used quinoa with veggies. So comforting and so delish bowl of YUMMY goodness!
Thank you, Anu! It was the first time I added quinoa and I just loved it! 🙂
This soup looks fantastic and I love the addition of quinoa – one of my favs!
It was the first time I’d added quinoa to my soup — I wish it hadn’t taken me so long! Thanks, Deb! 🙂
The flavors!!!!! I adore everything about this soup, Marcie!
Thank you, Cathy! 🙂
I just bought saffron for the first time and had no idea what to do with it. I never even heard of it until I married my Persian husband who loves saffron! I googled saffron recipes and came across this , I just made it and it’s yummmm! So good and healthy will definitely be making again.
Doesn’t saffron have such a special flavor? I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup, Simi, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave me feedback!
Your recipe says not to rinse the chickpeas, but do you drain them or add their liquid?
Hi Nancy — add the beans AND their liquid. I’ve updated the recipe to include that info. Thanks!