All posts filed under “SOUP

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PERU: Sopa Minuta

PERU: Sopa Minuta

IMG_3945We were super excited to draw Peru out of the cup just a couple of weeks before we were to leave for 3 weeks in Peru!   We had a FANTASTIC time and saw, learned, and experienced so much – including hiking the Inca trail where the boys earned from the various guides on the trail the nickname “Alpacitos” (baby alpacas – as opposed to baby goats) as they scampered along.

While the boys love exploring Cusco – a city full of Incan history, colonial balconies, and (very) thin air…IMG_3580…they both REALLY loved Lima – a city full of gorgeous buildings, ceviche, public parks, and (the pièce de résistance) an arcade in the mall across the street from the hotel we stayed in.  They want to move there… to the hotel that is.    I wouldn’t mind either.  (Shout out to Christian from the JW Marriott… if you’re reading this – you made our stay in Lima so fun!  So fun connecting with another foodie!)


See that flag above the boys? It’s on the hostel I stayed in 20 years ago. We stopped in to see if they still have peacocks on the roof. Yes, they do. Also, the boys were beyond fascinated by the crypts under the yellow church (Catedral San Francisco) and the hundreds of thousands of bones on display. Boys.


One of the highlights of our trip was visiting a small farming village about an hour outside of Cusco where 32 families live and farm at 14,000 feet elevation.  The primary language is Quechua (the language of the Inca) and many of the children don’t have the opportunity to attend school as they are busy working the fields.  That said, there is an organization there now that has set up a fantastic school (one room, 40 kids ranging from 6-16, one teacher!) where the kids are learning to read and write in Spanish and English, taught computer skills, and provided a safe space to learn and study.  It was amazing and humbling to see what the teachers and kids are able to accomplish with so little.  That said, they need so much and we will be publishing a list of their needs and how you can help these kids.  Stay tuned for more information.


The boys in red next to Beckett are the same age as him.  Look how TALL Beckett is by comparison! The local boys were fascinated by the “giant boy in glasses”.



Meanwhile, Calvin made quick friends through the universal language of drawing cartoons.



While we visited the school, the moms prepared a lesson for us in sheering sheep + alpacas, making yarn, dying the yarn and lastly weaving the materials.

If any of your are planning to travel to Peru with your kids, I have so much advice!  Just send me an email and I’ll send you all my thoughts.



2014_12_soop_peru-15Alrighty, on to the soup.  We chose “Sopa Minuta” a classic soup loved throughout much of Peru for it’s ease, simplicity, and speed.  It is found on menus all over the country and know by most everyone.  That said, as we traveled through different parts of the country, the boys would make new friends and chat them up about our soup project and the response was invariably, “oh yes, Sopa Minuta is good, but you should really make……”.   In fact, one hotel we stayed at, even surprised us by giving us a recipe to add to our roster.  So sweet!

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.54.39 PMSo, we just might have to repeat Peru a few times until we find our favorites.  We’ll have to add “Quinua Soap” (aka Quinoa Soup), Chupe de Quinoa, and Moraya (dried potato soup).  Look for those soups at some point during this project.

Anyway,  like I said, Sopa Minuta is made all over the country and is made differently by each household- much like chicken noodle soup here in the US.  We had it a few times in different places in Peru and it was drastically different – some include tomato sauce, some milk; some include ground beef, others chunks of sirloin.  That said, the common ingredients are noodles (I use rice noodles to make it GF), beef, oregano, and a Peruvian chile paste made from aji panca.  If you can’t find it in any of your local Hispanic markets, you can purchase it online.  It is not spicy, but provides THE flavor for the soup.  There is no substitute, so do yourself a favor and find a jar somewhere because once you try this, you will want to make it over and over.  Plus, you can use it in the “quinua soap” recipe above.  🙂

This soup comes together in about 15 minutes and is hearty and filling enough for a quick weeknight meal.  Pair this with a little salad (and maybe a pisco sour or two) and you’re all set!

2014_12_soop_peru-1Sopa Minuta
Serves 4


  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil – sunflower,  canola, etc
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons aji panca paste
  • 1 pound ground beef  – or sirloin cut into cubes if your prefer
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons GF tamari – or regular soy sauce if you can eat it
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta (I use THIS brand and cannot tell it’s not regular pasta).
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Add tomato and aji panca pastes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.2014_12_soop_peru-5
  2. Crumble the beef into the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through.2014_12_soop_peru-8
  3. Pour hot water into the mixture and add soy sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes.2014_12_soop_peru-11
  5. While noodles are cooking, crack eggs into a cup and stir until well blended. (Make sure you don’t accidentally get shells in there!)  Then gently stir eggs into soup – stirring continuously.  Eggs will form long thin noodle like strings (like an egg drop soup).2014_12_soop_peru-9 2014_12_soop_peru-102014_12_soop_peru-12
  6. Remove from heat season the mixture with oregano and salt + pepper (to taste).2014_12_soop_peru-13
  7. Add cream and serve.

Cook’s Notes

This recipe ended up on all of our favorites list and will be on repeat at our house frequently.  It’s very savory and comforting.  My #1 of all so far!

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TANZANIA: Curried Banana + Fish Soup (Ndizi na Samaki)

TANZANIA: Curried Banana + Fish Soup (Ndizi na Samaki)


We are BAAAAAACK!  Thank you for your patience as we took a month off to explore South America, get and recover from the flu, and take a week long business trip (a few of those things simultaneously).   I’ll be getting Peru and Swaziland online asap and we have Cyprus cued up for this weekend.

If you haven’t done so already, please follow me on Facebook where I post news, photos, sneak peaks, new friends, updates, and other soupy things.

Okay, without further ado, here’s what we learned about Tanzania :

  •  Since one of our life goals as a family is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, we will be visiting Tanzania some day.
  • As independent countries, Tanzania (and one of its provinces Zanzibar) are both just slightly older than my husband.
  • Tanzania has 2 different capital cities.  Dar Es Salaam is the former capital, but still maintains its place as the capital in the hearts of Tanzanians; Dodoma is the new administrative capital.
  • Here’s a fun website with lots of food info if you’re keen on cooking more Tanzanian fare
  • While “Hakuna Matata” is well known to us westerners, the phrase is uncommon among native speakers of Swahili in Tanzania, who prefer the phrase “hamna shida” in the north and “hamna tabu” in the south.
  • I found this music video out of Tanzania to be a really interesting study of the different classes in the country.  Cheesy/romantic, yes… but it’s fascinating to see how the street scenes and lifestyles are depicted.
  • Finally, Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, has a thriving street food scene which Anthony Bourdain was kind enough to test out for me until I’m able to get there myself.


Although it was quite a different flavor profile than we are used to, this was a winner.   It was pretty spicy, which I loved, but I might decrease the spice next time to make it more friendly to sensitive palates.  I’d also love to try this with shrimp next time.


Hooray! My parents were here for a visit and joined us in Tanzania. Thumbs up from them!
Papi said beer was the perfect thing to wash it down with!



Curried Banana + Fish Soup (Ndizi na Samaki)
Serves 6


  • 2 lb flaky white fish (I used tilapia)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 15oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
  • Cooked white rice and cilantro, optional


  1. Season tilapia with fresh black pepper and salt.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat oil and saute onions until translucent and tender.2014_12_soop_tanzania-6
  3. Add garlic, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and fry for 2 more minutes.2014_12_soop_tanzania-7
  4. Add the fish, stock, tomatoes and coconut, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes – stirring occasionally to break up fish into large chunks.2014_12_soop_tanzania-8
  5. Add banana and simmer 10 additional minutes.2014_12_soop_tanzania-9
  6. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls over white rice and garnish with cilantro for a bit of color if desired.

Cook’s Notes

This is relatively spicy as prepared with the full 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes.  The boys both said they would have liked it if it hadn’t be so spicy.  If you’re making this for kids, you could just omit the red pepper and allow people to add it to their bowls if they want a bit of a kick.

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BULGARIA: Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian meatball soup) Супа топчета

BULGARIA: Supa Topcheta/Супа топчета

2014_11_soop_bulgaria-13Here’s what we learned about Bulgaria in  our research this week:

  •  Yogurt is extremely popular in Bulgaria and eating it is believed to give you a longer life.
  • Bulgarians shake their heads to mean yes and nod for no.
  • Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since it was first established in 681 AD.
  • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is named after his grandfather (Marko) who emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940.
  • Many believe that wine has been produced in Bulgaria since the stone age!

I had the great fortune to attend a singing workshop with the lovely ladies of Kitka Vocal Ensemble where I learned how to sing in the Eastern European style.  The technique involves a different use of my throat/nose than I had ever been exposed to and the harmonies are haunting.  Here is a gorgeous song by Kitka.  I honestly don’t know if it’s Bulgarian, but it sure is pretty.  And here is a Bulgarian group singing in traditional Bulgarian costumes.


Calvin found this recipe on pinterest and was sold the minute he saw the word “meatballs”.  We love us some meatballs in our house – from Italian wedding soup, to Vietnamese beef balls in our pho, spaghetti and meatballs – we love them all.  And now we have a new favorite meatball that is also GLUTEN FREE!!  Whoo-hoo!  In Bulgaria, they add rice to their meatballs instead of bread and, I’m telling you we will be doing the same henceforth in our house.  I was a little confused by all the recipes I found online because none of them told me whether the rice should be cooked or uncooked when adding them to the meatballs, so I rolled the dice and opted for uncooked which was correct.  Phew!

Supa Topcheta can be made about as many different ways as our own Chicken Noodle soup, so this recipe is an amalgam of various recipes found online with a few of our own ideas tossed in for good measure.  In the end, it was a winner.  All thumbs up!2014_11_soop_bulgaria-11Apparently, it was “everyone wear red” night at our house.  I didn’t even notice until processing the photos.  Funny.  Also, if you don’t like losing, never play Yahtzee with Calvin.  He is a ringer.  You have been warned.

2014_11_soop_bulgaria-1Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian meatball soup) Супа топчета
Serves 4-6


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried savory
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela’s)

For the Soup

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small celery root, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (not fat free)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the meatballs by combining all the meatball ingredients EXCEPT the flour in a large bowl and mixing well by hand.   Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes (more for better flavor) to allow flavors to meld. Once meat has rested, roll into 1 inch meatballs.  2014_11_soop_bulgaria-2
  2. Roll each meatball in gluten free flour and shake off any excess.  2014_11_soop_bulgaria-6
  3. Bring the water and beef broth to a boil in a large soup pot.  Add salt.  When water is boiling vigorously, add meatballs in batches – maintaining a solid boil.  Once all meatballs have been added, add carrots, celery root and tomatoes.  Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.2014_11_soop_bulgaria-8
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk egg yolks until smooth.  Add yogurt and lemon juice and whisk well until smooth.2014_11_soop_bulgaria-7
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth from the soup pot in a thin stream – stirring constantly.  If you add the broth too quickly, the egg/yogurt will curdle, so make sure to go slow and steady as  you add the hot broth to the egg/yogurt.  Once you have added 1/2 cup of hot broth, slowly pour the egg/yogurt into the soup pot – again going slowly and stirring constantly
  6. Finally stir in the chopped parsley and serve.



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JAPAN: Toshikoshi – Soba Noodle Soup 年越しそば

JAPAN: Toshikoshi – Soba Noodle Soup 年越しそば

soop_japan_1114-8Here’s what we learned about Japan in  our research this week:

  •  Buckwheat noodles (soba) are traditionally eaten in Japan at midnight on New Year’s eve.    According to wikipedia, “the tradition started around Edo period (1603-1867) and there are several theories believed that long soba noodles symbolize a long life.”
  • A recent study revealed that approximately 50% of Japanese citizens eat toshikoshi soba on New Year’s eve.
  • While buckwheat is gluten free, many soba noodles are made with both buckwheat and regular wheat.  Check the packages carefully to find 100% buckwheat noodles if you eat gluten-free.

Here is a fun video showing you how easy toshikoshi soba is to make and how fun it is to say.


Remember back when Beckett chose Nsusu and Fufu because he could run around yelling those two words at the top of his lungs?  Anyone want to guess why we made toshikoshi soba this week? 

That only went on for 20 minutes or so.  No idea why schnitzel was part of his chant.  Anyway, our first attempt at toshikoshi soba was a complete flop and rendered utterly inedible due to the insane amounts of salt.  Luckily, we had also made sushi and, since Dungeness crab season just started, a cucumber crab salad, so we didn’t go hungry.  Plus, our friends arrived with fun Japanese sodas that had the kids so entranced, they barely noticed the food at all.soop_japan_1114-12Refusing to accept defeat, I retooled the recipe and nailed it this morning.    The fun part of toshikoshi is that you can add whatever floats your boat to the soup.  The first night (pictured here) included some leftover pork loin we had in the fridge, enoki mushrooms, and fish cakes.  This morning, we used shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and eggs (pictured at the bottom of this post).  The most important part of this soup is the broth and the noodles – the rest is just fun creation.  If you have kids who aren’t so sure about trying new “ethnic” foods, a nice way to introduce them to Japanese food might be to make toshikoshi and allow them to put in whatever toppings they would like (like taco night only with Japanese soup!).


Toshikoshi – Soba Noodle Soup 年越しそば
Serves 4


    • 8 cups water
    • 1 oz sliced dried shiitake mushrooms
    • 2 teaspoons HonDashi bonito soup stock granules *
    • 1/2 cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
    • 1/2 cup mirin
    • 1 tablespoon sugar (more to taste)
    • 200g package soba 100% buckwheat noodles
    • 2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, optional
    • 2 eggs, soft boiled, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, optional
    • 4 green onions, sliced thin
    • 1 package Enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed and separated, optional
    • 6 ounce log fish cake, sliced into thin half moons, optional **
    • Cooked pork loin slices, optional
    • Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese pepper spice)


  1. In a large soup pot, bring water, shiitake mushrooms, and HonDashi to a boil.  Add tamari, mirin, and sugar.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover.soop_japan_1114-2
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the soba noodles and cook until al dente – approximately 8 minutes.  Drain noodles and rinse well under cold water to remove any excess starch.soop_japan_1114-5
  3. While noodles cook, prepare all garnishes.soop_japan_1114-3
  4. Prepare bowls by adding noodles and garnishes to bowls.soop_japan_1114-11
  5. Add spinach to broth and cook until wilted.  Gently ladle spinach and broth onto noodles and garnishes.  Serve with Shichimi Mogarashi if you like things spicy.photosoop_japan_1114-10

Cook’s Notes

*  HonDashi is a flavor additive that contains fish and msg among other things and gives a very rich umami flavor.  You can make your own dashi if you prefer or you can substitute the dashi with salt.

** Many types of Japanese fish cakes contain gluten.  Be sure to read the packages carefully.

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Curried Coconut and Lime Gourd Soup

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Curried Coconut and Lime Gourd Soup


Here’s what we learned about the Solomon Islands in  our research this week:

  • There are around 1000 islands that make up the country and over 70 unique languages spoken.
  • It is believed that people have lived on the Solomon Islands for over 4000 years.
  • Due to global warming, the sea level in the Solomon Islands has been rising by eight millimetres per year compared to the global average of 2.8 to 3.6 mm
  • The Solomon Islands gained independence from Britain in 1978 – making the country younger than me.
  • While very dark skinned, 5-10% of Solomon Islanders carry a gene for blond hair!
  • I really want to go there someday.



There is precious little to be found about soups from the Solomon Islands online.  I tried reaching out to resorts on the islands for guidance, but finally found what I was looking for by browsing the online menus of the various restaurants of the many resorts on the islands.  I saw a few soups repeated – vegetable curry and pumpkin curry – so I ran with that idea.

Since everything I could find about the cuisine of the Solomon Islands talked about fish, fish, and more fish, I used fish stock in my soup, but this could be vegan by using vegetable stock.  The real key to this soup is the Madras curry powder (which also happens to be SUPER good on popcorn).  I found it at Safeway, so I’m guessing it should be pretty easy to find.  It contains salt, so if you use a different curry powder, you’ll probably want to add some salt to your soup.


So, I worked sans sous chef today.  Here’s the math:

  • Sleepover + Sensitive/temperamental child= Sleep-deprived grumpy kid
  • Sleep-deprived grumpy kid + Homework packets = Epic battle
  • Epic battle + First time trying out the word “sucks” = Banishment to room until said homework packets were completed and a reflection about the kind of language we use in our family was written
  • Banishment to room until said homework packets were completed and a reflection about the kind of language we use in our family was written + Need to make/eat soup = No sous chef

He did, however, manage to smile just once yesterday… but only because I told him to do so and (for the only time yesterday) he did what I asked.   That smile, while it looks so genuine, disappeared immediately when I put down the camera and the “you’re the meanest mom in the world” routine continued.  Sigh.  His big brother, on the other hand, was thrilled with flying under the radar for the day, but not so thrilled with the soup.  As he put it, “Mama, I’m just not a gourd guy.”    Duly noted.

soop_solomon_nov14-5Okay, so parenting challenges aside, I thought this was outstanding.  By using Trader Joes’ pre-cut & pre-peeled butternut squash cubes the hardest part of this soup was mincing all the shallots & the ginger.  If I wanted to REALLY wanted to speed this up, I could use my mini food processor and throw everything in there to mince and this recipe would REALLY be a snap.  This took about 30 minutes from start to finish and hit every mark for me – comforting, bright flavors, ever so slightly spicy, healthy, quick, easy and unique.  We served it garnished with jalapeño and basil with grilled fish and jasmine rice on the side.  I could eat this for lunch every day and be a happy, happy camper.


Curried Coconut and Lime Gourd Soup
Serves 8


    • 2 tablespoons canola (or other neutral) oil
    • 1 cup shallots, chopped (approximately 4 large shallots)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 4 lbs butternut squash, pumpkin, or other orange fleshed gourd, peeled and chopped*
    • 4 cups fish stock or vegetable
    • 2 cups water
    • 3 tablespoons Madras curry powder*
    • 1 can light coconut milk
    • juice of one lime


  1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cool until softened- approximately 3 minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant  being very careful not to allow the garlic to burn – approximately 1 minute.soop_solomon_nov14-2
  2. Add the gourd, stock, and water and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the gourd is tender when pierced with a fork – approximately 30 minutes.soop_solomon_nov14-3
  3. When gourd is tender, using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender puree soup until smooth.soop_solomon_nov14-4
  4. Stir in curry powder, coconut milk and lime juice.  Adjust seasoning – adding more salt if necessary – and serve topped with cilantro leaves, basil leaves, jalapeño slices or anything green and pretty.

Cook’s Notes

Trader Joes carries butternut squash already peeled and chopped into 1″ cubes.  Crazy convenient.

Madras curry has salt added to it.  If you use a different type of curry powder, you will need to add salt to your soup.

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REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)


Here’s what we learned about Congo in  our research this week:

  •  Gorillas!
  • Pygmies!
  • Lonely Planet ranked Republic of Congo #6 in it’s 2015 countries to visit!
  • Republic of Congo is also called Congo Republic and Congo Brazzaville.
  • Brazzaville is the capital of Republic of Congo and sits directly across the Congo River from Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

This video is good for a sampling of what life is like in Brazzaville. You can even hear the singers talking about Fufu at one point!

Muamba Nsusu and Fufu (Chicken and Peanut soup + Yams)

soop_congo_nov14-22I’ll admit it.  Beckett chose this recipe because he thought Muamba Nsusu was fun to say.  Well, first he actually picked fufu and ran around the house for several minutes shouting FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU before I could settle him down to pick what ELSE we should make seeing as how fufu is actually a starchy side sort of akin to our mashed potatoes.  He was set on having something as fun to say as FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU and therefore picked NSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUNSUSUUUUUUU!

As luck would have it, it Nsusu a good pick.  I described it to our friends’ boys who weren’t so sure about the stew as “peanut butter soup”.  That pretty much nailed it.  Very common all over Sub-Saharan Africa, peanuts (called groundnuts in Africa) are used very commonly in various stews combining chicken and tomatoes.  This version uses red palm oil, another staple of Sub-Saharan Africa, which some argue is the best type of fat (better than olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados) you can ingest due to its high level of Vitamins A and E.

While the soup Nsusu was a culinary success in our meal, the fufu was, well, let’s call it an acquired taste.  Fufu is Sub-Saharan Africa’s answer to our mashed potatoes.  It is made many different ways using many different starches, but in Western Africa it is usually made from yams, sometimes combined with plantains.  We chose to get half traditional and make it with yams and one plantain, but used the food processor instead of the more traditional way to make fufu (as seen in the video below).  I’m not including a recipe for fufu in this post simply because there seem to be a gigazillion different ways to make it, so I’m going to encourage you to get out there and blaze your own fufu path should you feel like running around the house yelling FUFUFUFUFUFFUFUFUFUFUFUFUUUUUUU!!!!

Ahem.  Now then.  Traditionally, our fun to say stew would be eaten with your hands – more specifically your right hand.  Eaters would take a bit of fufu and some stew and quickly slurp it all up by sticking fingers directly into mouths.  Had we gone this route, I’m sure the boys would have been thrilled, but we opted for spoons this time.

Would we make it again?  Sorry Congo, but the fufu was not a hit.  The soup on the other, hand, while much too heavy for me was a hit with the kids… even Dracula.




Muamba Nsusu
Serves 8


    • 1.5 pounds skinless/boneless chicken thighs
    • 2 tablespoons red palm oil, divided
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 large carrot, chopped
    • 2 jalapeños, minced
    • 1 cup natural peanut butter (peanuts and salt only- no other ingredients)
    • 1 can tomato paste (6 ounces)
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 can chopped tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
    • zest of one small lemon
    • 6 cups chicken stock
    • 1/4 cup peanuts


  1. Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs.  In large heavy soup pot, add 1 tablespoon red palm oil, then cook chicken thighs over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. This should take 8 to 12 minutes. As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. Once chicken has cooked and browned, remove it from pot and set aside to cool.soop_congo_nov14-14
  2. Add palm oil to pot and melt over medium-low heat. Sauteé onions, carrots and chilies (scraping up any browned bits from the chicken) until well caramelized.soop_congo_nov14-15soop_congo_nov14-16
  3.   Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine peanut butter, tomato paste and cumin with 1 cup of the chicken broth and stir to combine well.soop_congo_nov14-13
  4.  Add peanut/tomato mixture to the pot along with the tomatoes, lemon zest, cooking for a few moments until fragrant.  soop_congo_nov14-17
  5. Add  chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Shred or chop chicken thighs and return to the soup. Add peanuts.  Simmer until soup has thickened.
  6. Check for seasonings – adding salt, pepper, lemon, sugar, or cumin as needed.
  7. Serve with fufu

Cook’s Notes

Red Palm oil is available at Whole Foods and online.

Also, yams are kind of hard to peel – says Beckett.soop_congo_nov14-18


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SOMALIA: Oat + Goat Soup (Shurbad)

SOMALIA: Oat + Goat Soup (Shurbad)


Here’s what we learned about Somalia in  our research this week:

  •  Somalia has a huge nomadic population and they eat primarily goat and camel meat.
  • The northern part of Somalia declares itself independent as Somaliland, but is unrecognized by most of the rest of the world.  That part of Somalia was ruled by Britain until 1960.
  • The southern part of Somalia was ruled until 1960 by Italy.  Therefore, pasta is incredibly popular in Somalia – some even suggest that pasta is the national dish of Somalia!
  • Somalia is 99% Muslim – the vast majority being Sunni.
  • Ramadan is observed throughout Somalia whereby fasting is observed during daylight hours for close to a month.  Upon breaking the fast, many Somali families eat a very filling and hearty soup of goat and oats.
  • Doing a Google search of images of “Somalia kids” is not advised unless you (a) have tissues at hand, (b) are prepared to answer a lot of questions from your kids about starvation, and (c) can stomach it.
  • The recipe we chose would traditionally be eaten with hands by using a pancake like bread to grab little handfuls.  I couldn’t find (and honestly, didn’t have the gumption to try) a gluten free version of this bread, so we went with rice instead.  If you can eat gluten, here’s a great looking  recipe!


So, it turns out that finding a Somali soup that can be verified to be a true and traditional soup of Somalia was quite a challenge.  There are many wonderful Somali cooking blogs out there, but I couldn’t find a “official” source of Somali recipes to cross check any of the recipes I found online.  Which led me into an interesting line of thinking about how the internet works and what people find online tends to be taken as gospel truth simply because it was found online.   And I then realized that once I post this recipe out there on the interwebs, I will, in fact, be just as much an authority on Somali soups as anyone else who has ever put a recipe for Somali soup online.  Wacky.

Anyway, I finally settled on two recipes I could vouch for the authenticity of and gave Calvin a choice between lamb shoulder stew and goat + oat stew.  I was surprised when he chose the goat + oat, worried about how it would come out, and nervous about our friends coming over to join us with their two little boys.  I should not have worried:

soop_somalia_oct14-25The enthusiastic response was immediate and all 4 boys went in for 2nds and one went for 3rds.  Plus, my two boys had leftovers in their lunch boxes yesterday and both ate every bite while bragging to their friends (and intentionally grossing out the girls) about eating goat stew.  Which reminds me… you don’t have to use goat.  It is the traditional meat for this dish, but you could also use lamb or beef if you desire.  If you’re really not into goat, don’t let the goat stand in the way of making this incredible soup – go ahead and use a different meat.  I won’t tell anyone.

This soup is simultaneously simple and complex; hearty, but not rich.  It is easy to make (once you’ve made the spice mix) and quick enough for a school night dinner.  We served it with Somali rice, spice encrusted goat, and a DELICIOUS coconut hot sauce.  For a quick an easy dinner, I might make a simple salad of cucumber and tomato to eat with this soup and call it a night.  We will be making this one again for sure.soop_somalia_oct14-30

Oat + Goat Soup (Shurbad)
Serves 4-10 depending on whether served as an appetizer or main


    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1 pound ground goat meat (you can use lamb instead if you desire or beef if you don’t like goat or lamb)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon xawaash spice (see recipe below)
    • 2 boullion cubes (preferrably HerbOx)
    • 8 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (Trader Joes and Bob’s Red Mill have gluten free versions)
    • Juice of one lemon


  1. Heat oil in large soup pot.  Add goat meat and brown.  Add onion and cook until the onions are translucent.  Add garlic, tomatoes, and xwaash bariis- stir for 2 minutes.soop_somalia_oct14-19
  2. Add water, boullion, and oats.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently.soop_somalia_oct14-20soop_somalia_oct14-21
  3. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender blend soup until smooth.soop_somalia_oct14-23 soop_somalia_oct14-24
  4. Add lemon juice and check for seasoning adding more xawaash bariis or salt as needed.  I mixed a little olive oil and xawaash bariis to make a sauce I could drizzle on top for a little color.

Cook’s Notes
All adults and 2 of the kids at the table though the coconut hot sauce (recipe below) brought this recipe to the next level.  Feel free to use a different meat if you desire.  I won’t tell anyone.

Somali Spice Mix (Xawaash Bariis) 
Makes about 1 cup



    •  1/4 cup cumin seeds
    • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
    • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    • 1 small cinnamon stick
    • 24 cardamom pods
    • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder


  1. Add all ingredients except last three to small frying pan and heat, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes until very fragrant.  Cumin seeds will burn quickly if not attended to.soop_somalia_oct14-13
  2. Place all ingredients in a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder) and grind into a fine powder.soop_somalia_oct14-14
  3. Pour into a glass jar and add ginger powder, nutmeg and turmeric powder.  Place lid on jar and shake until all spices are well incorporated.

Somali Coconut Hot Sauce (Basbaas Qumbe)
Makes about 2 cupssoop_somalia_oct14-16


    •  1/3 cup dried coconut, unsweetened preferrably
    • 3 large jalapeños, stemmed (seeded too if less spicy is desired)
    • 2 large cloves garlic
    • 1 small onion
    • 1/4 cup white vinegar
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. Soak coconut 15 minutes in boiling water to remove any sweetener and soften coconut; changing water at least once. Drain well.
  2. Add all ingredients to blender and blend well.

Xawaash Encrusted  Goat Meat (Hilib Ari Duban)
Serves 6-8


    •  Goat shoulder or leg (approximately 3 pounds)
    • 3 tablespoons xawaash spice
    • 3 tablespoons canola oil
    • 4 large cloves garlic
    • 2 tablespoons salt


  1. Preheat grill or oven to 300 degrees (we used a Traeger smoker grill).
  2. Mix oil, xawaash, garlic and salt in small bowl.  Spread mixture all over goat, making sure to get spices into every crevice.
  3. Wrap goat tightly in aluminum foil at least 4 times – making sure every seam is well closed.  (If steam escapes, meat will not cook properly.)
  4. Allow goat to rest and marinate at least one hour.  Marinate in the refrigerator overnight for best flavor.
  5. Put on grill (with door closed), traeger, or in oven for 3-4 hours.  Because all the moisture stays inside the foil, it is nearly impossible to over-do it.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 20 minutes before opening foil.
  7. Pick meat off bones and serve.


    Sorry there is no before photo… the problem was it smelled so insanely good when it came off the grill that all 4 adults dove in before I remembered that we needed a photo. Oh well – we’ll just have to make it again.


Somali Spiced Rice (Bariis Iskukaris)
Serves 8 as a side



    •  2 cups basmati rice
    • 4 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil)
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon xawaash spice
    • 3 large cloves garlic
    • 1/2 cup peas, more to taste
    • 1/2 cup chopped carrots, more to taste
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons salt


  1. Rinse rice thoroughly until water runs clear.
  2. In large pot that has a properly fitting lid, melt ghee over medium heat and fry the onions until they begin to caramelize.
  3. Add xawaash, garlic and vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant – 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add rice, water and salt.  Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cover pan.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes then turn off stove (do not remove lid!) and allow rice to sit in covered pot another 15 minutes.