Plantain Soup A.k.a. Caribbean Matzo Ball Soup
  • 4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pinch saffron, optional
  • 4 cups well-flavored stock (I used Moosewood's Mock Chicken Stock that I had made over the weekend)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 4 slices of fake bacon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. Mix handful of salt into a bowl of cold water and soak plantain chunks for 15 minutes. Combine saffron and stock in saucepan over low heat, keep warm. Bring at least 1 inch of oil to about 350 degrees in a deep skillet.
  2. Cook the veggie bacon in the oil until crisp; remove and lay out on paper towels to cut back on the oil. Take the plantain chunks out of water, drain well and pat down with a paper towel. Deep fry the pieces until tender and brown.
  3. Once a batch is done, put them in a food processor with the veggie bacon, garlic, salt-n-pepper and some cayenne pepper for a kick and blend. Keep adding the plantains to the mixture when you're done frying them you want a nice and smooth consistency. Shape the mixture into small balls and place in bowls. Ladle some of the stock and garnish with cilantro. Eat immediately (makes 4 servings).
Green plantains are used to make hearty balls that are filling and delicious (comment on that one if you like). The cayenne pepper adds a nice kick to the balls (it's one of those mornings), while the cilantro cools it down a bit and adds a differing texture. I recommend using homemade stock, but any organic veggie stock (or chicken stock, if you prefer) is good if you add the saffron. The recipe is one from the Times a few weeks ago that was plantain crazy. Bittman calls it a "mofongo, but it's pretty far from a traditional mofongo - according to a coworker who knows these sort of things. Unfortunately, the article is inaccessible unless you're a Times Select member, but I posted my version (and a different title) of the recipe below. If you've got some cooked rice on hand, throw it in to make it an even more substantial meal or just have some good bread to sop up the broth.