Caribbean Cooking For Two (Soup and Shepherd’s Pie)

Caribbean Spiced Shepherd's Pie (with extra mince)
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Roasted (Levi) Roots Soup

Roasted (Levi) Roots Soup

Yesterday I finally got the chance to delve into one of the new cook books, picking two recipes from Levi Roots Food for Friends. Most of the ingredients (in terms of vegetables and spices) I had in the press already with the minced lamb and sweet potato needed for the Shepherd’s Pie mix requiring a trip to Super Valu.

I started out looking for an option for lunch for two and chose the Roasted (Levi) Roots Soup which, on a glance at the ingredients looked like a safe gluten and dairy-free choice for herself.

Now, the only soup I’ve ever made has either come from a hot cup packet or one of those Avonmore cartons you could bang in the microwave so this was a whole new scenario for me. You can get the full list of ingredients after the jump (end of the post).

So I peeled the carrots, chopped the ginger, tomatoes, onions, added the spices, some sweet red peppers, sweet potato chunks and oiled and roast everything in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Once done, the veg were left to cool before making their way into the blender (which is finally seeing use after 12 months of sitting in the corner), joined with some more spices and a 400g tin of coconut milk. Once blended, I tipped everything back into a big pot with about 800ml of water, give or take, bringing the whole lot to the boil, then simmering gently, all the time stirring away. The result?

Ken's Roasted Roots Soup with Vienna Roll

Ken\’s Roasted Roots Soup with Vienna Roll

One hell of a tasty soup that would warm even the coldest man on a winter day. Testament to that was coming in out of the rain for the afternoon to find enough for five people still left in the pot today with myself and herself enjoying the soup as a *very* late lunch (ten to five late).

With the soup done and dusted, next up was the Shepherd’s pie. Not traditionally a Caribbean dish by any stretch of the imagination, the pie was dressed up with some nice spices, orange, lamb as opposed to beef and sweet potato for the topping. Looking for something a little spicier, I added some extra pepper and tabasco into the mix though next time around I think a few chilis might be plenty to add that extra zing to the dish.

This one turned, titled Caribbean Spiced Shepherd’s Pie in the book, was a major, major win for dinner. Taste, texture, the “filling a hunger” factor, the whole lot. It might have been added to given the prep and cook time came in over 90 minutes but whether ready in 90 minutes or 10 minutes, it’s given me another one to stick in the “must cook again” pile.

Mixing The Mince and Vegetables

Mixing The Mince and Vegetables

The recipes for both the soup and the pie contained similar ingredients which worked out a treat. For the pie, I’d started out by browning the minced lamb in the largest pan I’ve got, doing it in chunks so not to sweat the meat. Once browned, I dumped it all out to a bowl, threw the carrots and onions with some spices back into the pan until the onions were a pale gold colour and soft, then back in with the mince. 300ml chicken stock is added along with the zest and juice of a whole orange. In my case, I’d forgotten to buy an orange so just took a splash of orange juice from a carton in the fridge, save the time.

Once all of the ingredients are in the pan, they can sit there on a low heat for about 45 minutes (about how long it takes the sweet potatoes to bake).

The sweet potato topping for the top layer of the pie was made by baking six sweet potatoes (roughly 1 kg) in the oven on gas mark 5 for 45 minutes. The potatoes are baked in full skins and once soft (test with a knife), the skin peeled off and the flesh mashed with around 30g of butter.

For the last ten minutes of baking the potatoes I had thrown an oven dish in (bless the free Dolmio dishes with the shopping) on the bottom shelf to pre heat before adding the meat, veg and sweet potato on top and putting the whole lot back in the oven for 20 minutes. To finish off, and add that taste of home, I grated (amount at your discretion) some Dubliner Vintage Cheddar on top.

Caribbean Spiced Shepherd's Pie (with extra mince)

Caribbean Spiced Shepherd\’s Pie (with extra mince)

The first slice left me with an additional spoon of mince, added to the top. Actually typing this up, 9pm and all that it is, has me thinking I could get away with another piece now despite being stuff after the late lunch, it’s actually that tasty. I figured I’d get some nice recipe ideas from the book but if I just took away those two, I’d be very happy.

See the ingredients below or get your copy of Levi Roots Food For Friends here..

Roasted Roots Soup

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 tomatoes, halved
  • 2 red peppers (I used the large sweet red peppers, stripped of the seeds and cut into thick inch slices)
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4cm peeled fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper are suggested for additional seasoning, along with fresh coriander for garnish. The olive oil is used for the vegetables, in my case I split it between two sandwich bags, splitting the veg load between the two bags to coat them up well before going into a roasting dish in the oven (gas mark 6).

Caribbean Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 750g minced lamb (in my case, the butcher had pre-packed their own minced lamb so I wound up using 900g)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice (I opted for mixed herbs instead)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (my flavour of the month, delighted to get it in there)
  • 300ml chicken stock (or use lamb stock or water, I went with OXO chicken stock, just one cube)
  • Splash of orange juice
  • 6tbsp tomato puree
  • 3tsp soft dark brown sugar (the kind that smells “christmas cakey”)
  • 20g porridge oats (used to thicken up the meat and stock mix)

You’ll find the soup recipe on page 32 and the shepherd’s pie recipe on page 95. Next weekend I’m going to go Italian, picking a recipe from Catherine’s Italian Kitchen (Catherine Fulvio). Looking forward to that one!

Written by Ken McGuire

Writes and talks a lot about food, spending way too much time in the kitchen or behind the lens taking photos. Digital Media Specialist by day, broadcaster by night, living in Kilkenny with Mrs. Any Given Food and two crazy rescue hounds.