January 8, 2009

Healthy Meal: West Indies Pepper Pot Soup

This soup has been in my arsenal of recipes to try for a few days – it’s extremely different than anything I’ve made before, and included a vegetable I’ve never cooked with. I’ve had taro root bubble tea, but never tried it in cooking, and I decided I was game for the adventure.

When I went to the grocery to buy the taro, it rang up as “malanga,” which I tried to tell the cashier wasn’t the right thing. He assured me that “malanga” was just the Spanish word for taro, but a search on The Cook’s Thesaurus taught me that they are actually different, but substitutable. what I had bought was actually taro, but for some reason it was ringing up as malanga. Fine.

I wasn’t entirely sure of how to peel it and chop it. I cut off the dried ends, but my peeler wouldn’t get through the flesh, so I finally just cut the sides with a knife like you would a blood orange. I figured it was cheap enough (something like 50 cents a pound) that even if I wasted a bit, it wasn’t a huge loss. When I diced it, it left a starchy residue on my cutting board – which I didn’t learn until later (when writing up this review) was toxic. Again, using as a reference, it says, “In its raw state, it can be toxic and harsh on the skin, so wear gloves or oil your hands when handling it.” Oops! I’m scrubbing my hands and the cutting board thoroughly now – hopefully they just mean it’s drying to the skin, which I can fix with some moisturizer.

I didn’t check the number of servings the recipe was supposed to make, but when I got to “add two gallons of chicken broth,” I knew I was in trouble. I had cut the recipe in half, so I was only supposed to add one gallon, but still. I had already added the spices, so I tried adding the chicken broth, but after tasting, it was crazy intense to the point of being inedible. To fix the problem, I dumped out most of the broth (with the spices) and then added more water, hoping that watering it down would fix the problem.

Nutrition facts:
116 calories per humongous bowl that’s more like two servings of regular soup (recipe here)

Review: 1/5 stars

When all was said and done, the soup was still too spicy. I know I’ve been complaining about dishes being too spicy a lot in the past few days, but I’m really not that sensitive to heat – this was just way too much. Yet at the same time that it was burning my mouth, the broth was pretty watery (hmm, I wonder why?). It was interesting, healthy, cheap, and very different from any of my other recipes, but I think even if I cut back on the spices, I still wouldn’t love it. Unfortunately, I have a gallon of the stuff to eat… at least the spices seem to mellow the more it sits in the fridge.


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