Plantain and Sweet Potato Soup
Although based on a Brazilian recipe, this soup probably originated in Africa. The ham broth adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the soup, which is hearty enough to serve for dinner. It's perfect for a brisk, fall evening served with a fresh cabbage and carrot salad.
2 large ham hocks
1 large onion
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 bay leaf
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 ripe, black-skinned plantains
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced chives or parsley
- Cover the ham hocks in a large pot with about 6 cups of water. Stud the onion with the cloves and add it to the pot along with the allspice and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, occasionally skimming the foam and fat from the top. Remove the ham hocks, reserving them, and strain the broth (if desired, refrigerate the broth and remove the fat that accumulates on top, or use a skimming cup to drain off the broth).
- Place the potatoes, plantains, apple, and thyme in a large saucepan and add enough broth to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the contents to the bowl of a food processor. (You can also use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot, if desired.) Purée in batches if necessary, until smooth. Return the contents to the pot and add more broth, if needed to thin the soup. Simmer until just heated through. Add the butter and salt and pepper to taste. Dice some of the lean ham-hock meat, and garnish the soup with the ham and chives.
Makes 6 servings.