Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty • www.lettercollum.ie • Karen@lettercollum.ie
The garden is still slumbering and there’s not much happening on the vegetable front so I thought it would be fun to investigate aphrodisiac foods for the Valentine’s edition.
Along the way I have discovered that Valentine’s Day started out as the Roman feast of fertility. Goats and dogs were sacrificed by naked men who used the hides of the animals to whip women followed by a type of matchmaking lottery to partner everyone up for the duration of the festival. Certainly sounds wild. The Roman church then got involved and toned it all down by nominating Saint Valentine and everyone put their clothes back on. Latterly it has become a commercial festival but hey ho maybe we all need a little escapism and fun in February when the rain is pelting on the windows and we’re all stuck inside.
It’s certainly interesting how many foods lay claim to aphrodisiac superpower and many of them are every day fruit and vegetables.
Trawling through the Internet I found long lists, from avocados to zucchinis
A request for a soup recipe, which could sound very ordinary, made me think it would be fun to jizz it up a bit for the occasion, so here we go.
This recipe for Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa has plenty to stimulate the system.
The Aztecs believed so strongly in the power of avocados that they kept their daughters locked up during the avocado harvest and black beans have plenty of tryptophan, which should get you in the mood. Chillies stimulate endorphins, which are the bodies opiate feel-good chemicals and get the blood rushing round – even the celery lays claim to aldosterone, which increases the subtle scents emitted by humans and animals to attract each other – so if you make this soup don’t be surprised if everyone who eats it becomes frisky!
The recipe is very simple. The secret lies in the slow sweating of the vegetables before throwing in a can of black beans, a can of tomatoes and vegetable stock.
The avocado salsa is easy to make but sourcing the perfect avocado might take some forward thinking. Ripe avocados can be difficult to come by but a few days in your fruit basket should do wonders if your avocado is on the hard side. Just put a ‘DO NOT EAT ME’ sign on it whilst it ripens in case some enthusiast comes along and eats it just as it reaches peak condition.
Eat with toasted tortillas to keep to the Aztec theme.
Black Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa
• 1 onion
• 2 stems celery
• 1 carrot
• 1 leek
• 2-3tbs olive oil
• 2-3 cloves garlic
• 1 can tomatoes
• 1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
• 300ml vegetable stock
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• small bunch fresh coriander
• lime juice
Peel and chop the onion. Heat a saucepan on a medium heat, add the oil and gently sweat the onion. Chop the celery finely and stir into the onion. Peel and chop the carrot into small pieces, add to the pot. Wash the leek, making sure there’s no grit between the leaves. Discard the very green part and chop the rest finely. Stir in with the rest of the vegetables, Season with a little salt and cook gently until all the vegetables have melted down.
Peel and chop the garlic and stir in. Cook for two to three minutes then add the tomatoes, black beans, cumin and stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for fifteen minutes.
Take off the heat and buzz with a hand held blender or put in a processor until smooth. If it is too thick, thin with a little water until you are happy with the consistency.
Taste. Add more salt if needed, a little squeeze of lime juice and serve with freshly chopped coriander and avocado salsa
• 1 just ripe avocado
• 1 very small red onion or part of
• 1 ripe tomato
• 1 chilli – take the seeds out if you don’t like hot
• juice of half a lime
• fresh coriander
• salt to taste
Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl. Carefully peel the avocado, slice it into strips then dice into small cubes – you don’t have to be fussy about the shape just try to get similar size.
Peel the red onion and dice very finely. Use as much as you fancy but don’t bury the avocado in onion
Cut the tomato into half, scoop out the seeds and dice to a similar size as the avocado.
Chop the chilli finely – remove the seeds if you don’t want the heat
Add a little chopped coriander and toss everything together. Taste and season with a little salt.
Serve the black bean soup in bowls with a spoonful of salsa piled in the middle.
Eat with caution!