Cream of Amaranth Soup

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Amaranth is another vegetable that I noticed for the first time at my local market without being able to identify it. Thanks to the posts at Mahanandi I did not remain in the dark for long - check out the fantastic JFI roundup there. In Mandarin it is called hong xian cai but my market vendors, most of whom speak Sichuan dialect, all seem to call it hong han cai.

I found amaranth a bit difficult to cook - it tastes and behaves a lot like spinach, wilting quickly and losing a lot of volume. It also bleeds and stains everything red. I made an amaranth omelet that tasted wonderful but looked really odd. My favourite way to cook it so far is a simple and restorative vegetable soup that does not mind being pink.

Mince half a small onion and one clove of garlic, and half a red pepper and sweat with salt in a small sauce pan until vegetables are tender but not browned. (Can use other vegetables based on what you have on hand.) Add one and a half cups of chicken or vegetable broth and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in one and a half cups chopped amaranth and heat til vegetable is wilted; then stir in three tablespoons of cream. You can omit the cream if desired for an even more basic soup. This should fill up one person or serve two as first or last course.

8 comments:

Ricercar said...

Thanks this looks good! Dont know if I will get it here though.

Jenavira13 said...

Amaranth is also popular in Mexico.

Pepper said...

That's really interesting - how is it cooked in Mexico? I will have to find some more recipes. It is supposed to be more nutritious than spinach.

Jenavira13 said...

Hey Pepper,
In Mexico the grain of amaranth is used. I've never tried it, but I remember that a few years ago it was a popular subject on the food days in Newspapers here in California. Here is a really interesting article that really goes into the details of it and what other countries use amaranth: http://chetday.com/amaranth.html

Faye said...

I seem to recall Grandpa sending us some amaranth seed to try, here in northern Alberta. It was quite, um, purple and grew as an exotic weed for a couple years after the initial planting. I don't recall us ever actually eating it though!

Meesha said...

Thanks for the post! I just got back from China, and while in Jiuzhaigou I had "han cai", which through your post I discovered is called xian cai in standard Mandarin or amaranth in English. I also enjoyed checking out some of your other posts about simple, delicious foods.

Meesha said...

by the way, where in China are you (or were you) located?

Pepper said...

Hi meesha! in Chengdu. The other blog is
Food and Drink Chengdu