This gluten-free quinoa soup with mini vegan meatballs is a hearty, satisfying and comforting meal that's perfect for the whole family. Pair it with a side salad or some gluten-free, vegan garlic bread.
Did you have a favorite soup growing up?
For me, it was Progresso's Chickarina.
If you've never heard of it, it was basically chicken soup with the addition of mini meatballs and acini di pepe pasta instead of spaghetti noodles.
Not only was it time to make this childhood favorite vegan, but also gluten-free.
Just one problem...those beautiful pearly pasta dots.
For some reason, it's just not that easy to find a gluten-free version of acini di pepe.
In fact, I only found one brand and it wasn't even available on Amazon.
Since that wouldn't be convenient for most people, I had to go with something else.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town (it was really across the room, but it sounds more intriguing this way), my husband saw me banging my head against the desk as I struggled to come up with a substitute for acini de pepe.
Then he casually commented, "Why don't you just use quinoa?"
Oh wait, that's the 80s band. Oops! 🙂
Aha! That's it - quinoa it is!
Glad I though of it. 😉
Once it was established that I would be using quinoa in place of the acini di pepe, it was time to figure out the meatball ingredients.
I looked at the Chickarina meatball ingredients and found they are made with a combination of pork and turkey. So, I decided to use Beyond Meat's Beyond Sausage to make the meatballs instead of a vegan beef substitute.
I originally contemplated using a chickpea or lentil-based meatball but knew I needed something more substantial to hold its own when being submerged in liquid.
I seasoned the meatballs with garlic, parsley, vegan Parmesan, gluten-free bread crumbs and black pepper and used aquafaba for the egg replacement.
The remaining soup ingredients include: olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, sea salt and black pepper.
How to make quinoa soup with mini vegan meatballs - step by step
First, preheat your oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the Beyond Sausages from their casings and add to a mixing bowl.
Mash up the "meat" with a fork.
Then add the aquafaba, garlic, vegan Parmesan, gluten-free bread crumbs, parsley and pepper.
Use a spoon, silicone spatula or your hands to mix until ingredients are well combined.
Then use your hands to roll into balls.
Bake the "meatballs" at 400° F for 20 minutes.
When they are done, remove them from the oven and set aside until ready to use.
While the meatballs are cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot.
Add carrots, celery, garlic and onion and season with salt. Cook until veggies are softened, about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the veggie broth and black pepper and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and use tongs to carefully add the meatballs to the soup.
Then stir in the quinoa.
Continue to simmer uncovered until quinoa is fully cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Season with additional salt to taste, if desired, before serving.
Ideas for serving
You can enjoy this soup as is or garnish with some freshly ground black pepper, fresh parsley and/or some vegan Parmesan cheese.
It's also great with a simple side salad.
Beyond Sausage is available at many grocery chains throughout the United States including Whole Foods Market. You can search for a store near you that carries it on the Beyond Meat website or buy directly from the company online.
Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the leftovers in a pot on the stovetop until warmed throughout, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat in the microwave in a covered microwave-safe container in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between. When reheating, you may need to add more broth as the quinoa tends to soak it up while sitting in the refrigerator. Note that the "meatballs" will start to break up over time from sitting in the liquid and being stirred around during reheating.
Yes, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw it completely in the refrigerator before reheating. Once defrosted, reheat the soup on the stovetop, ensuring you bring it to a boil.
More vegan soup recipes
Quinoa Soup with Mini Vegan Meatballs
FOR THE VEGAN MEATBALLS
- 14 oz Beyond Sausage (I used Original Brat)
- 3 tablespoon aquafaba (canned chickpea liquid)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup grated or shredded vegan Parmesan cheese (I used Thrive Market brand)
- ¼ cup gluten-free, vegan plain breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SOUP
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 cups low sodium vegetable broth (80 oz; use certified GF broth if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup uncooked white quinoa, rinsed and drained
FOR THE VEGAN MEATBALLS
- Preheat oven to 4000° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove sausages from their casings and add to a mixing bowl. Mash up with a fork.
- Add aquafaba, garlic, vegan Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and pepper and use a spoon, rubber spatula or your hands to mix together until ingredients are well incorporated.
- Bake chicken meatballs for 15-20 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165° F.
- Bake for 20 minutes. When done, set aside until ready to use.
FOR THE SOUP
- While the meatballs are cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a 5-qt. soup pot.
- Add carrots, celery, garlic and onion and season with salt. Cook until veggies are softened, about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the veggie broth and black pepper and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and use tongs to carefully add the meatballs to the soup.
- Stir in the quinoa.
- Continue to simmer uncovered until quinoa is fully cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Season with additional salt to taste, if desired, before serving.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs for this recipe)
This post originally appeared on Watch Learn Eat on December 4, 2015. It has been republished to reflect both recipe and photo revisions. Changes to the story were also made.
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