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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish and Fried Plantains

 Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish and Fried Plantain Chips

Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish and Fried Plantains
by Victoria Challancin

Apologies to all my readers for being such a poor excuse of a blogger over these holidays.  I was in the U.S. for a couple of weeks, and then enjoyed a two-thousand mile road trip with my son from Los Angeles to Mexico, just the two of us, talking, singing, looking at beautiful scenery, and generally bonding in a loving way.  Once back in San Miguel, the Holiday Season was in full swing...and now, here I am ready to catch up.  I do hope each of you had the Holidays you wanted and needed.

I would also like to offer heartfelt wishes for a New Year full of love, growth, good health, realized dreams, and peace.  Our planet needs so much healing, may it start in our hearts and our lives.  

I still have so many recipes to share with you from my last cooking course with Mexican cooks, that I hardly know where to begin.  So we'll start with this utterly delicious soup, rich with the flavors of the  Islands:  ginger, allspice, cumin, and chile.  This soup is a taste sensation with every bite--do give it a try when you need a little culinary thrill.  And for a bit history of Jamaican Jerk Flavors and my own family recipe for an unbeatable Caribbean Jerk Chicken, click here.

While I loved this soup prepared with carrots, I found myself imagining it made with either sweet potatoes or butternut squash instead.  Whichever vegetable you choose, feel free to play with and adjust to taste the amount of spices that go with it.  I think I also would have preferred cilantro to parsley, but that is just an individual choice.  I am giving you the recipe as written in Food and Wine Magazine, but you can be certain that I tinkered a bit with the fresh ginger and ground spices, as I never shy away from a bit of exotica.  I mean, subtlety may be required for a good blanquette de veau, but Jamaican Jerk and a rich Indian Curry really do need to sing in the mouth rather than sneak past you with their tails between their legs, unnoticed.

Often when I make plantain chips I use a trick I learned from Cuban friends, who fry them one time, drain the on paper towels, then flatten them with a spatula and fry them again.  Extra work, but worth it!  Some people also soak them in salty water before frying them.  I really do need to nail down the recipe for patacones, or fried plantains, from my Colombian friend, Adriana, who makes the best ever!

The chilled pear relish with spices and parsley

Cook's Notes:  This soup would be equally good with either sweet potatoes or a winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, etc.).  Of course you know me well enough by now to know that I doubled up on the spices in the main soup as they seemed incredibly stingy.  But then, I could be a spice savage or posses a palate that just requires a bit of oomph... I used habanero chile instead of Scotch bonnet, as that is what we have locally (both are incredibly hot, so use judiciously to taste).  Lemons weren't to be found either, which often happens here in San Miguel, and lime juice was substituted.  I doubled up on the plantain chips because I knew the cooks would want extras.  And how nice they were with the leftover pear relish, which if cut on the diagonal into larger pieces makes a lovely appetizer.

Recipe:  Jamaican Carrot Soup with Pear Relish and Fried Plantains
(Recipe by Marcia Kiesel from Food and Wine Magazine)
Serves 10
For the Soup:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds carrots, thickly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 small red potato, peeled, and thickly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Pear Relish:
4 firm, ripe Bartlett pears,, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Plantain Chips:
1 large ripe plantain
Vegetable oil, for frying

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan.  Add the carrots and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and golden, about 30 minutes.  Add the scallions, chile, soy sauce, thyme, ginger, cumin allspice, and nutmeg and stir until fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Add the stock, potato and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the potato is tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender and return it to the saucepan.  Season the soup with the lemon juice and salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice.  Fold in the parsley, allspice,and nutmeg.  Chill the relish.  

Peel the plantain and thinly slice it on the diagonal.  In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering.  Add half of the plantain slices and fry over moderate heat until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels while you fry the rest.  Season with salt just before serving.

Reheat the soup.  Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with the cold pear relish.  Serve with plantain chips.

Make ahead:  The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and the pear relish for 1 day.  The plantains can be fried early in the day; reheat them in the oven before serving.

I will submit this post to Deb's Kahakai Kitchen's Souper Sundays event.  Check it out for some terrific soups, sandwich and salad recipes!
Parting Shot:

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Like life and love, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using text or photos.  Thanks!


chow and chatter said...

wow amazing soup, full of flavors, and what a cool road trip happy new year

Eha said...

This truly must be the most interesting soup recipe I have seen this year, be it made with carrots, pumpkin or sweet potatoes, all of which are favourites. I really want to taste the pear relish with it and hope to find some plantains - not always available here. As we are counting down the last hours here to 2013 and waiting for the wellknown fireworks on Sydney Harbour, may I take delight in the beautiful roses you have posted as a parting shot and wish you peace and prosperity and mountains of happiness in the year to come . . . thanks for your wonderful teaching . . .

Hotly Spiced said...

I'm so glad you had a lovely time away and that road trip with your son must have been a very precious trip. Happy New Year to you, Victoria. I love the look of this soup but I don't think we can buy plantains here - unless they go by another name that I'm not aware of xx

Eha said...

@ Hotly Spiced: Charlie - look in the vegetable section of both Woolies and Coles: you can find them under the name of plantains about 50% of the time! Happy New Year!

Joan Nova said...

Such an interesting soup! I particularly like the idea of the pear relish.

I'm glad you got to spend that quality time with your son and thanks for sharing your thoughts and sentiments about the new year.

All the best to you and yours!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Happy New Year Victoria! :D I hope your 2013 has started off well-well if this delicious soup is any indication, it has :) Thank you for the tip on the plantains. I've never actually cooked them before as they're not so easy to come by here :)

Sawsan@chef in disguise said...

Happy new year Victoria.Wishing you a magical new year
I love all the layers of flavors in the soup.I have had a cough for a while now and I think soup is the perfect cure

Deb in Hawaii said...

Such a pretty sunny soup! Love the touches of the plantains and the pear relish. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays this week.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

The flavors in this look divine! Yum!

I'm inviting you to join The Law Student's Cookbook blog party, called Pantry Party. Every month a theme is chosen and everyone is invited to share a recipe matching that theme, using at least one item from their pantries. This month is soup! If you're interested, come check it out: