Plantain Soup

It’s the time of year that my mind wanders off to Honduras, Ecuador and Mexico. I dream of warm weather, tropical foliage and platanos! Platanos are particularly important in the diet of Coastal Ecuadorians, and I don’t believe I ever had a meal that did not include them in some form. They usually eat the plantains green either fried, baked or mashed to make empanada dough. My favorite way to eat the platano is fried and smashed in what they call, “Patacones.” In other parts of Latin America fried and smashed plantains are called, “Tostones.” They are an acquired taste as they tend to be quite dry, but the minute I tasted them topped with hot and spicy Aji, I couldn’t get enough. Aji is a hot chile, cilantro and lime condiment served everywhere in Ecuador.

An Ecuadorian custom from the highlands  is to serve a light soup as a first course for the mid-afternoon meal, and it’s common to see a few platanos floating around the broth with diced potatoes and a sprig of cilantro. Slices of avocado, toasted hominy and Aji were always served with the soup.

Today’s recipe combines an Ecuadorian platano fetish with my never-ending quest for maximum nutritional value. Here you will find copious quantities of kale! And don’t even think about eating the soup without the Aji. Yes, it’s a condiment to be served on the side, but it without it, you’ll feel like you’re eating mashed potatoes without the gravy.

Ingredients:

Soup

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, diced
  • 2 plantains, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, deveined and chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • avocado and lime as garnish

Aji

  • 4 Serrano peppers
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • salt to taste
  • splash water

Blend together in food processor or blender.

Directions:

Be careful not to overcook this soup. Serve immediately.

Heat oil in a stock pot. Add onions and cook until they are crispy. Next add the garlic and stir it until fragrant. Add water, cumin, salt, potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender. Add plantains and cook for a few minutes until the potatoes and plantains are tender. Add the kale just before serving. It should just wilt and turn bright green. Serve with Aji, avocado and lime on the side.

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