You may have noticed that despite having lived in the Caribbean for nearly a year, basically none of my recipes are traditional Caribbean dishes.
I like to bring in Caribbean influence where I can and of course, I am always using the locally produced fruits and vegetables, but it’s not ‘Caribbean food’ as such. The reason for this is that I am not a huge fan of the way that they cook in St. Lucia and the traditional diet is not very nutritious and has led to increasing healthy problems and malnourishment across the country.
Howeverrrrr…when I went to Mustique I discovered one of the most delicious soups I have EVER tasted. Callaloo Soup is a quintessentially Caribbean dish, and also one of the healthiest that I have come across.
Callaloo is a popular dish throughout the Caribbean but the recipe varies slightly from country to country. The core ingredient remains – a green leaf vegetable usually Taro, Xanthosoma or Amaranth. Some countries eat it as a chunky stew while others combine the vegetables with coconut milk and make a soup. A traditional dish with a plethora of variations is perfect for me, because I’ve been able to come up with my own version – still with all of the typical ingredients – but blended into a garlic-rich, creamy and spicy bowl of goodness.
Of course if you’re based in the UK, it will be harder for you to recreate the particular flavour of this dish, but I would suggest using fresh spinach as your green leaf. The taste might end up slightly more iron-rich than the flavour produced from my recipe below.
Yield: Serves 4
Cooking time: 45 mins to 1 hour
6 cups of washed callaloo tightly packed (in St. Lucia they use taro leaves)
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and diced)
1 large red onion (diced)
Handful spring onions (chopped)
8 okras (sliced)
6 cloves garlic (minced/grated)
½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1 tsp dried thyme
½ scotch bonnet pepper (finely sliced)
Coconut oil (for cooking)
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Dry chilli flakes (optional)
Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole dish over a medium heat.
Allow a couple of minute for the oil to heat up and then add the red onion and cook for a couple of minutes until it begins to soften.
Heat up your vegetable stock in another pan.
Add the spring onions, scotch bonnet, sweet potato, okras, garlic and fresh parsley to the onions in the frying pan. Sauté the veg, stirring frequently for a couple of minutes so that nothing burns.
Add the callaloo leaves and mix through. They will immediately start to wilt down. Add the vegetable stock, coconut milk, thyme, a generous shake of garlic powder and salt and pepper (to taste). Stir everything thoroughly and once it starts to bubble, bring the heat down to low.
Cover and allow to simmer for anything between 30 and 50 minutes (stirring often to prevent sticking), until a significant amount of the liquid has evaporated and the flavour is strong. If the soup is not spicy enough for your palate, add some dry chilli flakes to give it a boost.
Once you are happy with the thickness, remove from the heat and either use an immersion stick blender, or transfer to a blender in shifts to process the stew into a thick, smooth soup.
Return to the heat for a few minutes before serving. This soup lasts several days covered in the fridge, and also freezes well.