Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ital Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

I've been thinking more and more about delicious Caribbean food since Si inspired us to make his delicious jerk fish. Caribbean food is one of those cuisines I feel I don't quite understand just yet and I need a lot more practice before I could start coming up with my own dishes. Still, we do have a cheeky little copy of Levi Roots' Caribbean Food Made Easy which I always enjoy using as everything always seems to turn out great plus he seems to be quite relaxed about the recipes, suggesting you substitute certain ingredients which does give you a bit more confidence about trying your own combinations.

Last Friday I'd invited Doyle and Jeni over for a 'three course meal out of the Levi Roots book' and set about making my old favourite Ital Soup. I started casting my mind back and realised that this was the very soup I'd made for our first dinner party in our current house (for the lovely Kate Madigan). I also realised that this was going to be our last ever dinner party in our current house (provided our house purchase doesn't fall through at the last minute!!). What a strange coincidence that this soup would see us into our cooking journey at Redruth Street and also see us out. Emotional stuff - sniff!

As suggested by Levi, I had a play with the ingredients as I couldn't get my mitts on carrot juice at Meezan. However I do recall that I've never really followed this recipe properly before and I've always been pleased with the results! This time, I had quite a bit of butternut squash knocking about as I was using it for a tamarind/ aubergine / veggie side dish I was making as part of the main course (also from Levi's book!) so I whacked that in instead.

I was pleased with how the soup turned out and Jeni asked me for the recipe afterwards so I was really happy that she liked it enough to eat again. According to Levi 'ital' basically means everything is natural and this is indeed a healthy starter with plenty of goodness in it. Only problems were that for me it was a bit underseasoned so I ought to have tasted more at the end and also it was pretty hot - I decided to put the Scotch bonnet seeds in as well and I would possibly think twice about doing that again if I had guests who weren't as spice happy as the Doyles!

Finally I thought I'd mention that for our main we had some coconutty spiced sea bass which was very yum once again thanks to Out of the Blue playing an absolute blinder with their top notch fish. Nice one guys.

1 litre water
2 sweet potatoes
250g butternut squash
Tin of chickpeas
4cm chunk of creamed coconut (cut from a block)
1 Scotch bonnet
2cm piece ginger
1 garlic clove
Large handful spinach
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp coriander

This first part of the soup can be prepared in advance. Put the water in a soup pan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and butternut squash before chopping into chunks about 2cm big. Finely chop the garlic, Scotch bonnet and garlic.

Put the squash and sweet potatoes into the water in the pan, along with the chickpeas, creamed coconut, garlic, Scotch bonnet and ginger.

Cover and allow the soup to simmer until the sweet potato and squash are soft.

Remove from the heat and blend.

You can now leave your soup until you're ready to serve. I left mine overnight as I think things like soups always taste better once they've had a bit of resting time, plus it makes it easier on the day of your dinner party. When you're ready to serve the soup, heat through before adding the spinach to the pan. Blend again, heat for a final few minutes, season to taste then spoon into bowls. Chop the coriander and use to garnish before serving.

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