Caveman Cuisine: Spicy Pig and Plantain Soup
Making soup seems simple enough. Toss some leftover meat and vegetables in a pot and boil right? Well...there is soup and there is OMFGTIDG (Oh My F'king God This Is Damn Good) soup. The trick to making the later, rather than the former, is to follow the oft repeated and equally oft ignored advice to "layer flavors".
Layering flavors doesn't mean adding a lot of different flavors or over-seasoning. (This generally resulting in a dish that tastes confused or like just took a bath in the dead sea.) It does mean, however, coaxing every bit of goodness out of the flavors you do use, bringing them, soaring, to the ecstatic heights of gastronomic nirvana.
Returning to our discussion of soup, the way that we would go about layering flavors for this particular type of dish is to start with either a mirepoix, włoszczyzna, or a sofrito (depending on whether your predilection is for French, Polish, or Spanish cuisine respectively). Regardless of what you call it, it is essentially a combination of finely minced aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic, shallot, celery, carrot, etc) slowly sauteed in either butter or olive oil. The combination of heat and fat releases, softens, and massages the flavors of the aromatics.
Next, we are most definitely NOT going to use water (or more accurately, just water) to form the base of our soup. For a lip-smacking, full bodied bite, we need broth, and not just any broth. For our second layer of flavor we want lots of gooey, gelatinous connective tissue to go into our solution. The best way to do this is to boil up some pig, cow, or chicken feet, but you can also recycle the cooking liquid from recipes such a pork shoulder submerged in coconut water and slow cooked for eight hours. This was what I did and you could have stood a spoon in the stuff.
The last stop on the flavor train is as essential as it is obvious. Taste as you go. Why wait till you serve your food to find out that it needed some pepper, a touch of salt, or some other essential seasoning? Good cooks don't like surprises and you want to know that your dish is just right before it hits the plate. A little spoonful from time to time is all you need to inform your taste-buds and save you, and your guests, from bland food.
In making this particular recipe, I employed all of the above techniques and the result was OMFGTIDG. I encourage you do do the same.
Leftover pork and roasted plantains from the "Pulled Pig and Mashed Plantains" recipe
~3 cups of broth from an Epic Pig
1 tbsp each of coconut and red palm oil
Sofrito (diced carrot, onion, celery, and garlic)
~3 cups pure water
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 avocado (diced for topping)
Hot sauce (optional but not really)
In a large pot, melt coconut and palm oil over medium-low heat. Add your sofrito, stirring frequently while it cooks. When the aromatics have cooked down and are nice and soft, add your broth, water, plantains and meat.
Bring the soup up to a boil and skim off any foam (failing to do this may result in an "off" taste for some complex scientific reason).
Reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow the soup to cook partially covered ~30 minute.
Season to taste and serve with sliced avocado and hot sauce on top (I'm particularly fond of sauces made from scotch bonnets but Cholula or Sriracha would pass muster as well.)