Jamaicans, I have it on good authority, are not big on appetizers. They do, however, like soup as a starter. On my visit to Lime Tree Farm in the Jamaican Blue Mountains soup was prepared every night as the first course to our evening meal. It was always smooth and always hot and tasty. When I noticed this trend, I asked Suzie – hostess extraordinaire and co-owner of Lime Tree – to tell me her secret. I guess she liked me or maybe we had too much wine, but she taught me how to make it! It was surprisingly simple. No fancy French methods here.
I call it “veggie” soup because the main ingredient, is a single vegetable, not a combination as you might be accustomed to. The flavor of the vegetable as main event shines through. I’ve described the basic method below. You can take some liberty with this recipe, as Suzie did not give me quantities. Follow this as a guide and experiment until you find a taste that you love!
I have used her method many times since my homecoming and I’m overjoyed to have this simple 1 – 2 – 3 method of making a beautiful soup that can stand alone with some crusty bread and a salad, or as first course. You vegans will love this recipe too!
Suzie’s Jamaican Veggie Soup
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 3 cups fresh green beans, washed, chopped [others I’ve tried: peas, butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, chopped)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
- 1 cup coconut milk
Start by heating the oil in heavy-bottom soup pot, add the onions and cook until translucent then add the garlic, being careful not to brown or burn. Add the main vegetable and cook until begins to soften and has bright color. While that’s happening, heat the stock. This would be a good time to add salt and pepper to taste. Add the hot stock and bring to a boil. Turn down and let simmer until the vegetable is soft. If too much of the stock has evaporated, add some water.
Once the vegetable is soft, take off the heat and either whiz with an immersion blender until smooth or ladle the soup into a blender and whiz until smooth (just be sure if the soup is hot to let the steam escape through the top of the blender while covering the opening with a clean kitchen towel so the liquid does not splatter and you do not burn yourself). Once smooth, return to the pot to low heat. Finish by adding the coconut milk. Heat through and serve.
The soup should be silky smooth with a lot of body (but not too thick) thanks to the coconut milk.