Ealing teacher Donna Peart has a delicious Afro-Caribbean recipe to share in our continued celebration of Black History Month. This one is perfect to warm your chilly bones as the leaves fall from the trees, and the nights draw in ever earlier. Spicy sweet potato, butternut squash and carrot soup. Read on for the history and inspiration behind Donna selecting this special dish.
Tradition is big in the Caribbean culture, and I have memories of my family gathering to make sweet Carrot Juice (Punch) on a Sunday, or hanging around in the kitchen to help with the annual Christmas Cake (now known as ‘Black Cake’), laced with sweet wine and overproof Jamaican rum, just so we could have the bowl. Food is memories and my memory of my Nanny happy in her kitchen inspires me to cook every day.
Saturday Soup is a tradition in many Caribbean households. ‘Putting a Pot on’ means that visitors, from far and wide, expected and unexpected will always be fed.
This wonderful soup is inspired by that principle. It is light, warm, welcoming and nourishing, and with all the goodness in one pot, it is a great way to get more than your suggested 5-a-day. This recipe can be adapted to any root vegetables you may have lying around in your fridge. Have fun exploring.
1 large orange sweet potato
1 large white sweet potato*
1 cup butternut squash
2 carrots 1 large white potato
2 sticks of celery
1 white onion
1 yellow or orange sweet pepper
2 tablespoons of red lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
1 teaspoon of vegan bouillon powder
1 teaspoon each of dried mixed herbs and dried parsley
Sprinkle of red chilli flakes to taste (optional; be careful, the heat intensifies in liquid)
Himalayan /Sea Salt (optional; to correct seasoning at end if required)
Fresh Parsley to dress (optional)
Peel and chop celery, shallots and white onion, and place in large pot.
Peel and chop carrots, white sweet potato, orange sweet potato, butternut squash, and white potato into medium/large chunks. Add half quantity of each to pot. Leave the rest soaking in cold water, and put to side.
Add the 1200ml of boiling water to the pot, bring to boil, then turn down, cover and leave vegetables to simmer for 40 minutes.
To check, Stir regularly allowing allow the vegetables to break up a little in the water, creating a natural vegetable stock base.
Once cooked, remove from heat and use a little water from the pot to dissolve vegetable stock cube and bouillon power in a cup, before adding back to the pot, stirring well before returning to the heat
Add dried mix herbs, dried parsley & red chilli flakes (optional). Stir well.
Add red lentils (washed) to the pot. Stir well.
Drain water from remaining vegetables and add to pot. Stir well.
Chop sweet pepper into chunks and add to pot. Stir well.
Bring everything to boil, before covering and leaving to simmer for a further 40 minutes. Stir at regular intervals until all vegetables are cooked and soup is thick. Correct seasoning with additional salt to taste if necessary.
Delicious served in a large bowl, with a sprinkle of parsley either on its own or with chunky toasted bread as displayed.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. It gets more delicious as each day passes.
*The white sweet potato can often be found at your local South Asian Grocer store. If you can’t find it, then just use the orange variety. It’s still lovely.