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Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Healthy Soup" Cooking at #70

Healthy Soup Puerto Rican Style

Readers, you may know that I veer from a strict recipe whenever I can get away with it but in making this intuitive soup, serious diversions are cultivated. Consequently, I suggest that you follow these directions with care. I cautiously warn you that only the brave go into the Land of Insight Cooking where great experimentation may equal great failure or success!

Healthy Soup Recipe

Saute a cup of chopped onions in olive oil until transparent and fragrant. Add some smashed garlic and continue cooking until soft- about another minute. Add 6 cups vegetable broth (or water). Chop the starchy tubers and/or large vegetables- any roots or green bananas/plantains-to about the same size (1 inch), and add them to the pot. After about 20 minutes, add softer vegetables-corn, green beans, tomatoes. Season with homegrown herbs if you have any. I like basil, oregano and racao (see photo), which is a flat leafed cilantro. Cook for about 30 more minutes. If you want to add a cup of pasta or even rice, you should estimate the time it takes to cook. (Make sure you don't overcook the pasta.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

In my recent batch, I added cubed homegrown calabasa (photo), which is a green encased but orange fleshed squash pumpkin. It's plentiful here in Puerto Rico and is easy to grow. (It can also be the base of a wonderful squash soup.) I also had some white chayote, Christophine, left over from my trip to the local Farmer's Market in Santurce (la placita de santurce) so I added that, too. (photo)
Looking at this as a creative cooking adventure, I thought about what everyone needed and added/subtracted ingredients based on what you might call, insight. Caution: This type of cooking drives onlookers mad as it looks so imprecise. You may change you mind about ingredients and combination at any time, but I think it's a great way to move into the creative feel of cooking.

~~Child: What are you cooking?

~~Mom: You know I don't like to be asked that question!

A Note on Composition: Think of your cooking as an evolving process so that it becomes a bit like creating a painting. You have an opportunity to combine into your cooking all of your food-life-experience, and you get to share it. I like to bring in cooking colors from the north and south- from my childhood and my adulthood. Though impressionistic, this insight method of cooking requires that you consider who you are cooking for. For me, this means I have to consider that my dear ones do not like heat-spice even if it's homegrown! (I make a hot pepper oil that I keep in the refrigerator exclusively for my use.) I have to forgo my selfish desire to warm up the soup up with ever-so-few drops of hot oil.

Enchant your family with "Healthy Soup"created especially by you!

Thank you for spending time with me in my Puerto Rican life. I hope your garden's harvest is plentiful and that you share your version of "healthy soup" with me!

Untangling Memories' Vine

My Healthy Soup this week surprised and delighted me. While cooking, I remembered the first time I came to Puerto Rico and was served guanimes (cornmeal dumplings) by my husband's great aunt who lived with her husband in a small house in the Botanical Gardens. What a novelty. My mom was traveling with us and we broke off from the group to go for a walk "in the jungle". We were impressed! The misty heat, piercing unfamiliar sounds and green lush foliage was both relaxing and frightening.
I never before attempted to make guanimes perhaps because the food seemed so wrapped up in the past. Nonetheless, they were a success and I'm glad I let that memory feeling visit me in the kitchen.
My family loved them! If you want to make these "corn dumplings", you would need corn flour, a bit of salt, oil and water, and banana leaf for wrapping. Make a paste, shape and wrap as you would a burrito. Tie and knot the banana leaf with plain white string on each side of the rectangular shape.

Unwrapping the corn dumpling, guanimes, I found that the banana leaf worked well to hold together the corn flour. (photo)

Blogland Lane Neighbors, I wish you well!


Read the complete post at Oasis Writing Link.


  1. I wish you'd share the recipe for these dumplings!
    They look delicious!

  2. Hi Pattee, I have a "cheat" that I tried today. Buy corn pancake mix! If you add oil, a little baking powder and baking soda, and water to mix to the consistency of a soft dough, they are perfect. If you prefer them 'hard', just omit the powder/soda. I also added a dash of salt. Do you have banana leaves? I wondered if maybe grape leaves would work if you used different spices, such as dill and garlic in the broth. If you have corn husk, you can wrap them in that and make something like a Mexican Tamale. They taste best boiled in seasoned broth. You can go sweet, also, that is some people might prefer a sweet taste so you would add a sweetener and raisins/apples maybe. (Of course, then the soup ingredients would have to change. Thanks for the interest, Pattee.

  3. Thank you Cynthia!!! I think I may give it a go!

    I'm such a non intuitive cook! LOL!

  4. Mjamm mjamm.... intuitive cooking = simply the best way. I have plenty of cookingbooks myself but I seldom use one. Great and healthy soup, Cynthia!

  5. 當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

  6. cynthia, what a great recipe and what a great message. 'intuitive cooking' is a great term!

    i'm not likely to make a hot soup until fall, but then i surely will delight in this recipe. and those guanimes! they look to die for!

    i love your posts here, cynthia.