Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feeling for Beef Soup

It’s funny how some things tend to inspire, and you’d be surprised to know that a bunch of green figs from my garden were the real crux of my Saturday soup today.

The original plan was to make a small dessert, just a little banana bread to nibble on later. But after looking to see if any of the Lacatan figs our friends had harvested were ripe – and not finding any – we wondered what we could do with the still green ‘hands’…
Him: “So when last yuh make a soup, gyul?”
Me: “Don’t know… Hmm… what you feeling for?”
He (optimistic) “Ah feeling for a Beef Soup… it still have beef?”

The remaining seasoned beef from a fortnight ago was already being thawed to make a little stew, with its still green (and now ice tipped) bits of chive and ginger scattered across its length, filled with promise. Down below in the vegetable bin the carrots, onions, plantains and sweet potatoes seemed to look at me and say, “Hey, we ready yuh know…”

Returning from the fridge with the produce, my boy was already pulling out the pressure cooker.
I said, “Yeah man, plenty beef.” 

A little olive oil and "SHWAAAAAH!" Into the pot the beef went to brown.

2 leaves of Chadon beni (in the measuring cup), 4 pimento peppers, 2 stalks of chive (which I kept back) and a medium onion were chopped up.

In they went with the beef.

A cup of washed and soaked split peas joins the party….

Plus two cloves of garlic, chopped. Everything cooked for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Poured and stirred in about 8 cups of water.

Covered, locked and pressured it for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime, I prepared the other vegetables.

Green bananas were peeled and put to soak in a little water with lime juice; it stops discoloration.

Chopped up 4 yellow & white sweet potatoes, 5 regular potatoes and 2 carrots. The 2 plantains would be peeled last.

It’s 25 minutes later and the beef is soft and the split peas have burst. Already it’s smelling like good home cooked soup, but it’s not done yet.

In go the green bananas and the two sets of potatoes.

Next, the plantains and carrots. A good stir and…

Then my next ingredient, a packet of Grace beef and pumpkin soup. Really, the soup can stand on its own without it. But like my Granny before me, sometimes you just feel for the extra bits and bobs. Before it went in, I added an extra 2 cups of water since some was lost during the pressure cooking.

Lastly, a little chopped celery and the reserved chives, then back on a low flame to cook for 20 more minutes until all the vegetables have softened.

Ten minutes in… you’ll notice it hasn’t quite thickened up as yet, but it’s getting there.

All done! Poured myself a bowl and had a taste.

Want some? Here’s the full recipe:

Halcian’s Beef Soup

About 1 pound of beef, cut into cubes and seasoned
1 potspoonful olive oil (or soya oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 pimento peppers, chopped
1 cup of yellow split peas (washed and soaked for at least an hour or two)
2 cloves garlic
3 Maggi beef cubes
8 cups water
5 or 6 green bananas, peeled and rubbed with a cut lime & left whole
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 or 6 pieces
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 or 6 pieces
2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rounds
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 packet of Grace Pumpkin and Beef soup
1 small stalk celery, chopped finely
2 stalks chive, sliced

  1. Brown the beef in the potspoonful of olive oil in your pressure cooker.
  2. Add the onions and pimentoes to the beef and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Strain the soaked split peas and add them to the pot, followed by the chopped garlic. Stir together and cook for another few minutes.
  4. Crumble in 3 Maggi beef cubes and pour in 8 cups water and stir. Cook under pressure for about 20 to 25 minutes until the beef softens.
  5. After this, add in the green bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ripe plantains and carrots.
  6. Sprinkle in the packet of pumpkin and beef soup. Add another cup or two of water and stir, then add in the celery and chive and cook for 20 more minutes until the soup thickens. Serve piping hot, or just warm.
I don’t think I have to tell you that the soup was a huge hit. Everything just melded together in that pot and the smell that permeated the kitchen immediately brought me back to my childhood with Granny. My boy ate his with gusto, even though he wished that some eddoes, dasheen and yam could have gone into the pot as well. If it were month’s end, maybe… but those green figs held their own and cooked just perfectly, melting like butter with each spoonful. All in all, a filling, tasty and a comforting meal.
So, try it out and let me know how it went. Don’t forget to leave a comment or two so I’ll know you dropped by.
Till next I cook, take care of yourselves and like I always say… doh forget to mind the pot!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, Halcian. I usually make my beef soup with lentils, and without provisions, because I greedy like that. Just pumpkin (or squash that one time), carrots, lentils and beef. And seasoning, of course.