From "Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match" by Ivy Manning (Chronicle Books, 2017) The comforting cookbook pairs homemade soups with freshly baked bread in under an hour. Here, Ivy shares a recipe from the book, and the inspiration behind it.
I’ve sampled the dishes from street-food stands all over Jamaica, and my hands down favorite dish is their thick, spicy “brown stew.” The hearty stew is full of whatever local vegetables are around and includes some sort of meat—chicken or goat being the most common. I opt for spice-coated pork tenderloin here. The fruity heat of habanero chile is pronounced, so if your family isn’t fond of spicy food, omit the chile and serve habanero hot sauce on the side.
Jamaican Pork and Sweetpotato Stew
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped habanero chile, or more to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 pounds yellow- or orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Soy sauce, for seasoning
Adjust the oven rack so it is 6 inches below the heating element and preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, thyme, and habanero and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, sweetpotatoes, and Worcestershire. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sweetpotatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, place the pork on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle the meat with the flour, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, pepper, and salt and toss to coat. Arrange the meat in a single layer and broil, without stirring, until the meat is browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes (the pork will finish cooking in the soup).
Transfer the pork and drippings from the baking sheet to the pot. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the soup has thickened a bit, about 10 minutes more. If you’d like the soup to be still thicker, use a potato masher to mash some of the sweetpotatoes. Season the soup with the lime juice and soy sauce.
Ladle the stew into bowls and serve immediately.
Note: This recipe doubles easily, tastes better the next day, and freezes well. Go easy on the habanero; just 1/2 of the finely chopped chile will be plenty, as the stew will become spicier the next day. Store in airtight containers or zip-top plastic freezer bags in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.