Tuesday 25 September 2012

Turtle Bean Soup with Plantain Fritters and Avocado Lime Salsa

From Terre à Terre: The Vegetarian Cookbook, Amanda Powley with Philip Taylor, Absolute Press, 2009.

I always get a kick out of making something from this book. The recipes are fun to make and the resulting dish is just as much fun to eat as it is packed with flavour.

I had to leave one of the elements, a sorbet, because guavas were unavailable. But I set to work on the turtle bean soup early. A mix of dried chillies were soaked in boiling water for about half an hour. The chilli mix I used was chipotles, guajillos and arbols. I added the arbols for heat as dried habaneros were not available.

The turtle beans had been soaking so they were drained, put in a pot with cold water, brought to the boil and kept on the boil for about 10 minutes. They were now drained again.

The chillies were drained with the water kept, deseeded and chopped finely. I gathered together a teaspoon of cumin seeds and about the same amount of coriander seeds, a bay leaf and a large pinch of dried thyme. All of these elements went in a saucepan with olive oil for about a minute until the herbs released their aromas. Into this mix went a chopped carrot, a finely chopped celery stalk and half a red capsicum, chopped. The lid was placed on and the vegetables left for about 10 minutes to release their juices. Now in went the beans, about a litre of water and the water from the soaked chillies. This was all brought to the boil and simmered until the beans were soft, about an hour and a half. When the beans were soft the soup was puréed in a blender, strained and left until ready to be served.

The salsa was simple a matter of chopping up the ingredients finely, mixing them together and putting them in a covered basin in the fridge until time to serve. While the recipe called for four garlic cloves I only used half of one. That seemed to be adequate when I tasted the salsa.

The plantain fritters were made by peeling a plantain, cutting it into 3cm lengths and then frying them until they were soft enough for a knife point to go into them easily. They were then pressed between two sheets of baking paper to make the fritter shapes. Just before serving they were deep fried until crisp and sprinkled with a dust made from grinding in a mortar roasted cumin seeds, salt, smoked paprika and black pepper seeds.
As usual with Terre à Terre recipes this was an absolute pleasure to eat. The soup was richly savoury and chilli hot, the salsa a mix of fresh vegetables enhanced by lime and cumin seeds, and the plantain fritters perfect scoops for the salsa. Interestingly we had some salsa left and finished it off by using commercial corn chips. The difference between fresh flavours and commercial, probably chemical ones, was marked.

Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

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