Plantain is so quintessentially Dominican that we’ve even adopted “plátano” as our nickname, especially by second-generation Dominicans abroad. Plantain recipes are among the most popular in our blog so I’m predicting that this Ripe Plantain Soup with Plantain Chips is going to join them in the popularity stakes.
A few weeks ago the price of plantains started climbing locally. The explanation for this was a combination of drought (the worst in 20 years) and the destruction of plantations by a tropical storm. As is common in our country, some politico or other went all Marie Antoinette over this (“let them eat ñame!”, or words to that effect), and the internet exploded in one funny meme after another.
Some were hysterical. You may have seen one or ten.
Of course we’re not the only ones who love plantains. They are just as popular in Cuba and Puerto Rico and well-appreciated in other Latin American countries. Let’s just say that I love creating recipes with our favorite fruit (yes, plantain is a fruit).
The idea for this recipe came from a book a friend gave me many years ago called La Cocina Venezolana. The first dish I tried from the book is the soup upon which I based this recipe. I have to say it has been changed to a significant degree, and I love the result.
The changes I made included adding a ton of ingredients (the recipe only had about four), not using lard (does anyone use it anymore?), garnishing with plantain chips instead of chopped tostones for extra crispiness, adding bell pepper for extra flavor and color, adding hot sauce – a touch of spiciness that I find goes great with the mild sweetness of this soup – and garnishing with cheese.
So if you are rich, and can afford to buy plantains, try this soup. It’s crazy-good. After all, anything that combines ripe plantains and green plantains is like a double dose of awesome.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large white onion , chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper , chopped
- 1 garlic clove , crushed
- 2 very ripe plantains , peeled and chopped
- 1 qt [1 lt] of water
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon of spicy sauce or agrio de naranja (optional)
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (peanut, corn or soy)
- 1 green (unripe) plantain
- 1/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
Heat the oil over low heat in a medium-sized pot (1/2 gal [2 lt] in capacity). Add onion and cook and stir until it starts to become translucent. Stir in bell pepper, garlic and ripe plantain, cook and stir until the garlic releases its aroma (about a minute).
Add water, increase heat to medium and simmer covered for 5 minutes, or until the plantain is cooked through. Mix in the parsley and cool to room temperature.
Puree in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the spicy sauce.
Peel the plantain and slice very thinly (use *mandoline slicer or potato peeler). Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a small frying pan, once oil is heated, add the chips one by one, don't pile them up (you will fry them in several batches) or they will stick to each other. Turn when they brown on one side to brown evenly. Remove them from the oil and let them rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Fry the remaining chips as before.
To serve the soup, either serve at room temperature (which I really liked), or reheat. Sprinkle with cheddar, parsley and plantain chips. Serve immediately.
Cheese is entirely optional, without it you'll have a very nice vegan soup.
The hot sauce is also optional, and should be so mild that it does not overpower the other flavors, aim for just a bit of a kick. Or leave out. It's up to you.