Callaloo Soup

I’d never had callaloo before, or even knew really what it was, but there bunches of it at the store the other day and I’m trying to eat more veggies so figured I would try it. If you’ve never seen it either, it’s a leafy green, sort of halfway between spinach and kale, looks like the sort of plant that grows along the side of the road that the old Arab women harvest in season. Although its Caribbean not middle eastern, I picture the old women in Jamaica and Trinidad doing the same. The traditional island recipes mostly call for coconut milk and crab, I had neither so improvised slightly. The result was delicious, and would most likely be an amazing hangover cure.

Ingredients

1 bunch callaloo leaves
8 oz okra, sliced
1/4 cup Goya frozen sofrito
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 mild green pepper (eg cubanelle, Italian frying pepper), seeded and chopped
1 hot pepper (eg jalapeño, scotch bonnet), chopped. (Leave seeds in for extra heat)
Old bay seasoning
Black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 oz rib bacon, with bone, cut into small chunks
1 tsp olive oil
3 cups water (or chicken stock)

Directions

Heat oil in large pot
Sauté the bacon, onion, garlic, and peppers in the olive oil for a minute until starting to wilt
Remove tough stems from callaloo, coarsely chop, and wash well. Add to pot.
When leaves start to wilt, add thyme, sofrito, water, and seasonings.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until somewhat soft, about 20 min
Meanwhile, cut the ends off the okra, then slice and add to soup.
Cook another 10 min or so, until the okra softens
Remove rib bone and thyme stems, then purée entire contents of pot in blender until smooth.
Adjust seasoning, pour into bowls, serve with bread.

Notes
I used one seeded jalapeño, gave it just a hint of heat and stayed well balanced. Chili heads will want more.
I used water, next time I would use chicken broth for more depth, a can of coconut milk, and add a black cardamom pop and a sprinkle of garam masala for a more exotic touch
Would also be good with some shrimp cooked in the pot, add after okra for final few minutes of cooking (but don’t purée!)