Delicate and spicy Callaloo Soup is rich with the flavor of crab and rice!
I was fortunate enough to come across some fresh callaloo (sometimes called callalou or callilu) greens this week, so grabbed them up to make a pot of callalou soup. They are rare in the market so you can understand how excited I was to come across them!
Callalou greens themselves are very tender, so you will often see recipes call for spinach in them. And though they taste quite like spinach, I find them to be even a bit closer to the taste of Swiss Chard leaves, so if you cannot find fresh callalou greens, choose first to substitute chard before turning to spinach. They are related to taro and are tuberous. You may recognize some of the other related but inedible plants as anthuriums, philodendrons, and calla lilies. Since the edible fresh taro (callalou) leaves are difficult to obtain for the most part, chard and spinach make acceptible substtutes.
Callalou soup itself is Caribbean, of course, and is generally considered Creole, which is slightly French in nature. There are a number of differing versions across the islands of the Caribbean sea, and it seems almost every Caribbean cook has their own special recipe or family version for it. One can find differing recipes for callalou in Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, Haiti, Martinique, and Guadaloupe, among other places.
Served as a pureed soup, in some places such as Guadalupe or Martinique, callalou soup is served in a French Creole style along with Creole rice and Chiquetaille (sheek-tie-ya), a salad made from salt cod and cucumber, as a main dish.
Today I will be making a version more like the type served in Trinidad, that includes crab. Foo-Foo, which are balls of pounded salted plantain, are the usual accompaniment. Creole rice (cooked long grain white rice) can also be served with the soup as a main dish. I will be serving mine with rice.
The flavor is wonderful- delicate but spicy, creamy, and rich with a flavor not unlike creamed spinach with a flair of curry and reminds me a little bit of a seafood gumbo. Southerners ears should perk. If you love both curry and gumbo you should step right up! And don’t worry about the okra if it detracts you. The puree is chock full of its flavor but not the unpleasant slimy texture that turns some off.
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 10 fresh okra, chopped
- 1 1/2 ounces salt pork or bacon, chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 fresh habanero chile, seeds removed and chopped
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 8 ounces fresh callaloo leaves, Swiss chard, or baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 6 ounces fresh crab meat, picked over for shell bits
- cooked long grain rice or prepared foo-foo (plantain)
- Saute onion, okra, salt pork, thyme, garlic, habanero and scallions until the okra and onions brown.
- Stir in the callaloo with the chicken stock and simmer until the callaloo is tender.
- Puree with a stick blender. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir in coconut milk and crab, then warm gently.
- Serve with rice.