Thursday, February 23, 2012

Recipe: Bolivian Pork & Pepper Soup

We must build a new world, a far better world – one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected. – Harry S. Truman

A father and son in La Paz, Bolivia. Photo: César Angel. Zaragoza, Flickr ccl
This recipe is a good one for a cool evening. It has just enough spice to warm your innards and you can easily adjust the heat up or down, depending on your own taste.

Hot banana peppers. Photo; jenniferworthen, Flickr ccl
This recipe is loosely based on a Bolivian recipe for pork and chillies soup. I substituted dried chillies for hot banana peppers because they looked so good in the grocery store. It wasn’t a mistake.

This soup has the distinguishing feature of having all three of the significant New World vegetables that caused such a stir when taken back to Europe by early explorers.

The culprits? Tomatoes, potatoes and corn. Of all the culinary discoveries made by Europeans in the Americas these vegetables made among the greatest long-lasting impact. 

Can you imagine Italian food without tomatoes, or Northern European diets without potatoes? The failure of the potato crop caused the great Irish famine that caused the death of so many people in the mid 1800s. Corn completes the triumvirate. It spread throughout Europe swiftly due to its ability to grow in so many diverse climates, like potatoes and tomatoes.

These vegetables became important staples of Old World cuisines, as they were in New World diets. Hopefully you will take to this dish with as much gusto as Europeans did to those three vegetables. They’re an excellent combination. 

This recipe is a nutritious, delicious one pot meal with a rich spicy broth and tender pieces of pork. It is quite quick to prepare so can be made with little fuss after coming home from a long day at work.

Add some bread and complete a hearty meal for six!

Bolivian Pork & Pepper Soup
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 22 min  |  Serves 6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 lbs pork loin, cubed
1 lg onion, chopped
2 hot banana peppers, diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 plum tomatoes, chopped large
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
4 cups water
4 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 can (341 ml) corn

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, chopped peppers and garlic and sauté until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the pork and sauté until it is no longer pink, about a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil and then add the diced potatoes. Let cook for 12 minutes.

Taste and adjust the salt if desired. Add the cayenne if you wish more spicy flavour. Then add the corn and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve with pepper and crusty bread at the table.


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