EATING GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Hey guys! Today I just wanted to share something I am utterly obsessed with, FOOD! This blog post is all about one of my favorite go-to recipes, and to be quite honest they're limited because I only learned how to cook after marriage. Yep, my momma did not have me around the kitchen when she was cooking, Moreso because I think my brother and I used to distract her. But one thing I can tell you is, just like a true West Indian mother, I don't have precise measurements for any of my meals, just a bunch of eyeballing and taste testing (laughs).
While some of you may be chefs in the kitchen, to be quite honest that's not the case for me. I've only masted a few dishes, but the ones I've mastered, I can say they are pretty darn good. While I wish I could make curry or simple West Indian dishes, those are still a work in progress. But for those who have asked about some of my favorites (Rasta Pasta, Corn Soup, etc.) I've decided to share my take on them! For my first foodie post, here is my take on Trinidadian Corn Soup!
Trinidad Corn Soup
If you’re West Indian, then you definitely know the staple fete meal - Corn Soup. Honestly, the first time I had it, I was addicted! I searched so many local establishments to see if they had it on their menu, it was THAT GOOD! The only soups I’ve had before were the traditional chicken soup, barley soup, and my favorite Cup Noodles (lol). Eventually I decided I should try to make it by myself, although I had never made soup in my life before, aside from packet soup. I went in search for a “good” corn soup recipe and my bestie sent me the link to Alica’s Pepperpot. The steps seemed easy enough and after I was finished, I was pretty happy with the outcome. Now I’ve made it so often that I’ve found my own “style” of making it. Just so you all know there are multiple ways to make this soup, and what I add might be completely different from what you might, but just know this is what works for me. I know a few people add chicken stock, celery sticks, pumpkin and more, but this is just how I like mine. Be sure to leave your recipe in the comments if you’d like to share!
The ingredients you will need are: 1 Large onion 1 Red pepper 1 Green pepper
(Sometimes I opt out of using two whole peppers and just use 1 pepper of whichever color I have available that day) 2-3 sprigs of scallion 4 cloves of garlic (or one table spoon of pre-minced garlic) 1 sweet potato 1 can of corn kernels 1 - 16oz packet of lentils (dhall) I buy the Goya packet from the grocery store 4 corn cobs (or you could opt to buy the pre-cut frozen cobs) 3 green plantains 1 tablespoon of butter 3 carrots stalks or baby carrots (your preference) 2 chicken bouillon cubes Salt and pepper to taste 3-4 sprigs of thyme Parsley (fresh or parsley flakes) 1 Habanero pepper or 1 Scotch Bonnet (your preference) 1 Can of coconut milk
For the base of the soup you want to start with the following: 1. Finely chop the onion, sweet peppers, scallions, garlic, and sweet potato
2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter into a deep pot and let it simmer and melt
3. Add the chopped ingredients along with, half of the can of corn kernels, 3/4 of the packet of lentils (dhall) or 1 cup, 3-4 sprigs of thyme and 1 chicken bouillon cube.
4. Let it all cook and simmer for about three minutes and stir in between
5. After letting the ingredients cook for a little, add three cups of water (or enough to cover the ingredients by a inch)
This is where you should also sprinkle a little salt and pepper (not too much though) I’m giving you guys West Indian motherly directions here, so just eyeball it.
6. Let everything boil for 35 minutes In order to test if the ingredients have boiled long enough I usually mash a piece of sweet potato with the back of my spoon. If it breaks easily, then I know it’s time to create the base. To create the base, you can either use a hand blender, or mash it by hand. It honestly depends on the type of consistency you want. While I’ve used the hand blender a few times, I truly love the consistency of the base when you hand mash it. For this process, I use a potato masher (so innovative!) I feel like when you hand mash the ingredients, the soup is heartier.
I hand mash until all the ingredients seem blended well enough. Once that is complete, we move on to part two of this process.
1. Stir the base and add your chopped corn (I like to keep the pieces 1-2 inches thick) if you’re using the frozen corn cobs, it’s already pre-cut, so it saves you tons of time.
2. Add your chopped plantain (again I like to keep the pieces at least 1-2 inches thick)
3. Add you chopped carrots, or whole baby carrot pieces (whichever you prefer)
4. Add the other half of the can of corn kernels
5. Add one additional chicken bouillon cube
6. Add 3/4 can of coconut milk
7. Add 1 whole habanero pepper or 1 scotch bonnet (your preference) I add the pepper at this point just due to some dietary restrictions. I'm not sure when others add theirs.
8. Add 4 cups of water, or 5, or however much additional you want to add, but I think 4 is a good amount.
9. Cook for an additional 40-45 minutes While the added ingredients are cooking, this is where I add my salt and pepper to taste. When I followed the original recipe I found that I kept needing to add additional salt and pepper. I honestly add it until I can’t taste the “coconut milk” taste. This is also when I add parsley flakes. Depending on the day, I’ll break the pepper thats floating around or leave it intact. It honestly depends on my mood and how I’m feeling when making it. When I break the pepper, the soup is usually spicier.
After the 40-45 minutes of cooking, I eye ball the soup to see if it’s the color I want, I usually know it’s done when its a golden brown color, as depicted in my picture above. Also! I know a lot of people like to add dumplings in the second half of the cooking process, but being the picky person that I am, I opt out of adding it. I don’t really like dumpling and wouldn’t want to waste additional food. (I know, I'm a wierdo) Once all done, serve in your favorite soup bowl and ENJOY!!!!!! If you try making this recipe at home, let me know how it goes! Or if you have other suggestions for the soup, feel free to share! Like I mentioned before, this is how I personally make the soup and how I like it, I’m sure there are others who make it a different way, but thats what makes cooking fun! It’s all up to interpretation! Happy Cooking Loves! With Love, From Bindi