Mexican-style soup with Quinoa bread

Here in southern Queensland temperatures have dropped and autumn is on its way. So I got my thermal cooker back out as I was longing for those slow cooked savory and warm dishes we associate autumn with.

As in most countries food prices have really escalated here, not just due to the global crisis following a pandemic and a war but also as major flooding has hampered food deliveries from flooded farms.

OK, the right time to cook a budget dish in a thermal cooker that uses minimal energy!

I bought my thermal cooker from the budget supermarket Aldi about a year ago. It is made of a thermos which sits inside an insulated carry case. The thermos can be reheated on 12 or 220V but I tend to use it without reheating.

Inside the thermos sit two stainless steel containers in which you start your food off. They can be used on a gas or induction stove. I have found it super convenient to cook in whilst underway sailing as even in the wildest weather no spills can happen. You simply start your meal in an anchorage or whilst it is calm and by the evening your supper is ready. It is also great way to cook a meal for a potluck or buffet with friends as it is easy to transport in a tender.

Whereas this is a vegan soup recipe , one can use it to cook meats, chicken, cakes and rice as well.

Thermal cooker AU$99

Ingredients for the soup for 4 servings

  • 1 onion chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 table spoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/4 cup of sweet corn
  • 1 can of chopped tomato
  • 2 table spoons of tomato puree
  • 2 carrots finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato chopped
  • half a cup of chopped celery
  • fresh herbs of your choice, I chose basil
  • 1 liter of vegetable stock
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil

Ingredients for the bread

  • 1/2 cup of tricolor quinoa
  • 1 sachet of yeast
  • 500 gr of plain wholemeal flower
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  • Activate the yeast in a bowl with 1/2 cup of tepid water with a little wholemeal flour added to it.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel.
  • Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of water on the stove and let it cool down once cooked. It takes about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Once you see your yeast and water is bubbling, add the rest of the water and about half of the flour. Recover the bowl and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
  • Then, add the cooled quinoa, the salt and the olive oil.
  • Let it rest for an hour.
  • During this time start your soup by putting the large inner container on the stove.
  • Add the oil, onion and spices and fry them slightly for about 2 minutes.
  • Add all the fresh vegetables and stir fry for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the canned vegetables and tomato puree and heat through.
  • Add the heated stock. I just use a stock cube in hot water, as it is too heavy and space consuming to have ready made stock on board.
  • As soon as the soup bubbles up, take it off the stove and put it in the thermos and insulator. The soup will be ready after about 2 hours but you can let it infuse much longer as it will become more savory.
  • Go back to your bread dough and add the rest of the flour.
  • Kneed the bread until it becomes a smooth ball.
  • Rub it with a little olive oil and place it back in the bowl. Cover it. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
  • The times you let the bread rest are temperature dependent so the dough should double in size.
  • Once this has happened place it in an baking dish. Let it rise again and finally put it in a preheated oven (200 C) for about 30 minutes.
  • Check the bread is cooked by taking it out of the mold. Tap it on the underside. It should sound hollow and not dense. Let it cool a little, then slice it.
  • Sprinkle herbs over the soup and serve with vegan buttered bread.
  • Keep left over soup in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it on the day, once cooled.
  • Keep left over bread in a zip lock bag in the fridge or freezer, toast to enjoy in the following days.

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