Wednesday, December 5, 2007

5.12.07: Tamarind Peas & Pearl Barley

Soak a kilo of organic dried green peas and 500g pearl barley over night. Start by putting the peas on to boil for an hour. Simmer the pearl barley separately and keep an eye on it, since its rate of cooking will be affected by the soaking. The grains of barley are added to the soup at the end, so should be cooked as soft as you wish them to be, perhaps retaining a little chewiness.

This soup depends for its flavour on tamarind, which comes in various forms. It's worth seeking out a good quality tamarind paste, or you may have to faff about soaking the dried fruit and cleaning it of any remaining seeds.

When it comes to cooking, this soup recipe needs to be taken slowly, very slowly. First, you need carrots chopped into cylinders and chopped onion - mixed chunks, small and big - celery and a couple of bay leaves, sautéed until golden in sunflower oil in the bottom of the soup pot.

Then add a generous mix of spices: curry powder; paprika; ground coriander, two or three teaspoons full of each, mixed with 50g of coconut cream melted in a cup of boiling water. This is followed into the pot by a couple of dessert spoons of piquant red pepper paste, Aci Biber Salçasi, plus three more cups of hot water.

Now add the cooked peas, with their cooking liquid and 100g of tamarind paste dissolved in hot water, plus two dessert spoons of mango chutney, and puree the soup, using a stick mixer, like our Gaynor, or a domestic blender or food processor. Finally, incorporate the pearl barley and add more hot water to thin the soup, if you think it's necessary.

Log bok tributes included: 'that was lovely and meaty-tasting again (although it was veggie) - yummy!' 'Beautifully seasoned and seasonal soup.' 'Quite interesting. Chef smiled today, too, which was nice.' Carlo will be smiling again tomorrow and, in addition to soup, branching out by offering pasta and salads for dinner tomorrow evening from six...

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