Little sis has been raving about this recipe for ages. She and a friend got it out of Jamie Oliver's second book and made it and loved it. So she copied me out the recipe from the book and instructed me to make it and put it on the blog so that she would have access to it. Having made it last night, I can see what she was on about. It even converted Mr Splorer, who had earlier been unenthusiastic because he wasn't a massive fan of soups. In fact, he's the second person I've talked to recently who believes that solid foods and liquids should never mix. Weird. Although, I suppose I can't criticise - my list of dislikes is pretty big (raw tomatoes, mushrooms, aubergine, etc, etc). But I'm getting better - and so apparently is Mr Splorer and his dislike of soups. He was devouring this little number last night.
It's a lovely gloopy thick soup with enough exotic ingredients to make you feel adventurous, but all you really need to do is chop them up and pop them in. Actually, I like to see exotic ingredients in a recipe as it gives me an excuse to tootle down to the road to Al Amin, my favourite shop in Cambridge. It's a total treasure trove of ingredients from all over the world, full of things I've only ever seen in recipes or never even heard of before. It also sells some staples of Costa Rican cuisine, such as plantain and black beans, so Mr Splorer can recreate the dishes of his homeland, which I enjoy!
Anyway, back to the soup. This is one of those recipes where it takes a while, but after a spot of chopping you can leave it cooking and just go back from time to time to stir and/or add ingredients. Just the thing if you're busy watching an unhealthy amount of Six Feet Under and embroidering napkins (possibly an over ambitious project for Dad's birthday present!).
Right, here's the recipe. Little sis wasn't sure how many it was for, but I halved it and it was perfect for 2 generous portions.
For the dumplings:
4 heaped tablespoons self-raising flour
4 heaped tablespoons cornmeal (which I'm 90% sure is the same as polenta. That's what I used anyway. But the recipe says you if it's unavailable you can use plain flour.)
55g/2oz soft butter
salt and pepper
water to bind
For the soup:
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 handfuls fresh thyme
2 large sweet potatoes
1 butternut squash (or 455g/1lb pumpkin), peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
455g/1lb white yam, peeled and chopped
1.1 litres/2 pints chicken stock
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
2-3 fresh chillies, deseeded and chopped
salt and pepper
Rub together flour, cornmeal, butter and seasoning, adding water bit by bit to form a stiff dough. Roll into balls slightly smaller than golf balls and put to one side. (Here I must admit I had to improvise a little, not having seen a golf ball for a while, but I made 16 dumplings with half this recipe, if that helps!)
In a large pot, fry the onion, carrot, coriander seeds and thyme in a little olive oil. Shake around and soften slightly before adding the sweet potatoes, squash and yam. Turn down the heat and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on, shaking regularly. Stir in the stock, lay the dumplings on top and simmer for about 40 minutes with the lid on before adding the coconut milk and okra and cooking for a further 10 minutes. Carefully season. Sprinkle with the chillies before serving.
You can also make it with meat, in which case you fry 680g/1.5lb stewing lamb or beef in the olive oil until lightly coloured before adding the onion, carrot, etc. We're feeling a bit poor (the government is stealing all our money in quite a scandalous fashion in order to allow Mr Splorer to live here) so skipped the meat bit. But it was delicious in its vegetarian incarnation. Oh, and I replaced the yam with extra butternut squash - I think you could mess about with the vegetables involved quite a lot without impairing the flavours.
Right, time to go and embroider my socks off, as it were.