Three simple and sublime Caribbean soups. Two of these bright soups come from the estimable Jinx and Jefferson Morgan; the third appears in the inconsistent pages of Jessica B. Harris. All of them bear a British influence and taste distinctively Caribbean. They are, however, equally appealing in wintry weather.
Tomato and ginger soup based on a recipe from the Morgans’ Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook. You will need a bottle of paradigmatically English Stone’s Ginger Wine, a Thing We like. Six starters, or, four mains for a light supper.
-3 cups beef stock
-2 cups peeled and seeded tomatoes, roughly chopped
-3 Tablespoons tomato sauce
-3 peeled and chopped large onions
-1 Tablespoon minced ginger or commercial ginger juice (see the notes)
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-3 Tablespoons flour (Wondra recommended, as usual)
- ½ cup Stone’s Ginger Wine
-3 Tablespoons lemon or lime (preferred) juice
-salt and pepper
-minced scallions and/or minced fresh basil, or both (optional)
- Bring the stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions and ginger to a boil and then simmer the soup base for about an hour. Make sure the the onions are wobblysoft.
- Puree the soup base; an immersion blender is handy if you have one.
- Melt the butter in a pot big enough to hold the soup and stir in the flour to make a roux. Do not let it color.
- Slowly whisk the soup base into the roux to combine them.
- Add the wine, citrus and hot sauce, reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish each serving with minced scallion greens, fresh basil, or both if you have some.
- Our soup differs in a few respects from the Morgans.’ They give their readers the option of chicken stock; we find it too sweet, and excess sweetness is the potential pitfall of this otherwise good recipe, although in fairness many authentic Caribbean recipes cater to the islands’ understandably collective sweet tooth.
- Stone’s Ginger Wine is sweet stuff, so we use only two thirds the amount that the Morgans specify and substitute the actual ginger or juice for the balance in our version.
- We prefer lime to the Morgans’ lemon juice and inevitably added the hot sauce.
- The biggest difference, however, is the absence of cream from our recipe. The Morgans stir a cup and a half of it into their soup after our Step 5. We found that the addition make the otherwise bracing soup a little too rich, and too sweet, for our own collective palate… but please try it the Morgans’ way if you like.
- Organic ginger juice from ‘The Ginger People’ save time if you are pushed and want to marinate something on the fly or are building a soup like this; its liquid flavor marries quicker with other ingredients. It is a Thing We Like.
The Morgans do not say so, but you can serve this soup cold.
Cold gingered consommé. This recipe is almost ridiculously easy, and not only because even Campbell’s canned consommé is fine. Do not, however, be snooty about its simplicity; this is a lovely recipe, from Jessica B. Harris’ Sky Juice and Flying Fish. Four rather large servings.
-1 quart beef consommé (again, canned is fine)
-1 Tablespoon minced ginger (the stuff from a jar, or commercial juice, is fine as well)
-1 Tablespoon dark rum
-a quick slap of hot sauce (optional)
-juice of a lemon
- Bring everything but the lemon juice to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir the lemon juice into the soup and chill it for an hour or more.
- Harris uses a third less ginger than our recipe.
- She also labels this a Jamaican recipe and so specifies Jamaican rum: that is arbitrary. There is nothing intrinsically Jamaican about it and any good dark rum works well.
Scallop soup. This soup is a soulmate of another simple, unique and ingenious recipe from the Morgans’ Sugar Mill cookbook. It is one of the more spectacular soups you will find anywhere at any cost (in its case, however, quite low). The only difficult thing about this recipe but not even its absence is an insurmountable obstacle (see why in the Notes). The Morgans somewhat sheepishly admit that this soup “is so simple to prepare that we are a little reluctant to reveal the recipe.” We are grateful that they did, and abashed that otherwise we never would even have thought of it. For six.
-3 cups chicken stock
-1 ½ cups beef stock or canned consommé
-1/3 cup clam juice (bottled is fine)
-1/3 cup white Port
-3 sea scallops cut into the thinnest discs you can manage
-salt and, maybe, a little pepper
-minced chives or scallion greens to float
- Bring the liquids to a boil whil you arrange the scallops on the bottom of six wide bowls.
- Ladle the hot broth into the bowls; it will cook the scallops. Sprinkle the green stuff over the soup and serve.
- This soup should be a standard to anyone’s repertoire. If we ranked recipes, and we do not, this one would make the top ten along with our crawfish etouffe (as yet) undisclosed steak, kidney, oyster and mushroom pudding.
- Be meaner than the Morgans and refuse to disclose the recipe to food pseuds; they never will figure out how you made it. This is one of those situation involving the sum and its parts.
- Do not despair if you cannot find white Port; a Sherry ranging from dry to medium sweet makes a serviceable enough stand in, and britishfoodinamerica’s own Phoebe Dinsmore prefers her scallop soup that way. The Editor, hoever, does not: She thinks that the Sherried version is good, but not as good as the Portly original.
- Her preference may stem in part that the alchemy induced by the Port; it seems to give the soup a luminous viscosity that is unfound elsewhere.
- The Morgans cut their scallops into strips rather than discs. They specify half a pound of the shellfish instead of enumerating them.
- The soup is misnamed. For those sad creatures who claim to dislike scallops, or if you cannot find some, or if you are broke, thinly sliced mushrooms or avocado or both are nearly as good and certainly worth trying. A bfia innovation.