Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Locro da Papa - Ecuadorian Potato and Cheese Soup

Locro de Papa

Once you get into a serious cookery habit, you very quickly start to accumulate 'stuff'.  At last count I had 7 varieties of vinegar, 9 types of rice and 5 kinds of lentils. My spice cupboard gets even more full with each passing trip to the shops and every cuisine I dabble in. Some ingredients are pretty easy to get hold of these days - every supermarket has a pretty good selection of herbs and spices these days, and Asian and Chinese supermarkets will furnish the inquisitive cook with pretty much everything else you will need.  Same goes for Eastern European and Caribbean cuisine.

However, some areas of the culinary globe are (in my neck of the woods anyway) a little harder to reach.  And this throws up a dilemma for anyone attempting to make dishes in an authentic a way as possible.

For example, this South American recipe.  Now, unless I'm blind, I haven't seen an Ecuadorian supermarket in my neighbourhood. And this recipe, done authentically, needs some ingredients that it's almost impossible to get without a lot of searching  - achiote powder and queso fresco.  My version, after some research, swaps the achiote for paprika and the queso fresco for ricotta.  Which, after 7 and a half minutes of interweb research appear to be about as good a substitution as I could find.  But it still bugs me that I'm not making a 'proper' version of this soup.

Am I worrying too much? Can anyone recommend a good source of South American ingredients? Does this stuff bother anyone else? Have you found a good supplier for edible Piranhas? Let me know...

600g Potatoes
250g Ricotta Cheese
25g Butter
1 Large Onion
1tbsp Minced Garlic
2tsp Cumin
1tsp Sweet Paprika
900ml Water
150ml Milk
Fresh Coriander

1. In your soup pan, heat the butter. Add the finely chopped onion and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to soften.

2.  Add the minced garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for another 2 minutes.

3.  Add the peeled and cubed potato.  Cook for another 5 minutes, until the potatoes start to soften slightly and everything is covered in the spices

4. Add the water, bring the soup to a simmer and cover. Cook until the potatoes start to break up.  Remove from the heat

5. Once the soup has cooled, either blend the sou until smooth or use a potato masher to break up the potatoes.  Add the milk and crumbled up cheese, adjust seasoning to taste and reheat.

6.  Serve with fresh coriander, grated cheddar cheese and thinly sliced spring onions. Enjoy!