Trinidad Corn Soup

Soup is often served as a starter, but in Finland it’s usually the main course. According to what I’ve read recently, in Trinidad soup is served as a main course too. Trinidad Corn Soup is filled with peas and vegetables, and you won’t miss a main dish after eating this. I read many recipes and made my version based on them. They all included corn, split peas, corn dumplings, chili pepper and carrots. Potatoes and coconut milk also seem to be popular ingredients. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas can be used too.

The soup is usually made with sliced corn ears, but barbecue season is over and whole corns weren’t available anymore, so we used canned baby corn instead. If you have fresh corn ears, slice them and add to the pot at the same time with dumplings.


Trinidad Corn Soup

2,5 dl split peas
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 celery stalk
1 tbsp oil
1 bell pepper
1 carrot
2-3 dl pumpkin cubes
1 scotch bonnet or other hot chili pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lovage
1,5 dl frozen corn
1 can baby corn

0,75 dl cornmeal
0,5 dl water

Soak the split peas overnight. Rinse.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic, chop celery. Heat the oil in pot and sauté onion, garlic and celery until onion is soft. Add 1,5 l water and bring to boil. Meanwhile peel and dice the carrot, and chop both peppers. When water is boiling, add peas, chopped vegetables and herbs. Simmer about an hour or until peas are soft. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup. You can puree it completely smooth or leave it chunky.

Make the dumplings: Mix cornmeal and water together to get a thick dough. Add bit more either ingredient if needed. Form into small balls. Season the soup with salt and pepper and add dumplings. Simmer 10-15 minutes and add both corns. Simmer 10 more minutes, adjust seasoning and enjoy.


The Pumpkin Pie of Mari El

It’s Sunday and time for the “free choice”-day. As our first week has been about the eastern parts of Europe, we’ll finish it off with something truly special: a pie from the Mari El Republic.

Maris are of the same Fenno-Ugric language family as Finns are (earlier we covered another part of the same family, Hungarians) even though we live thousands of kilometers apart.  So, in a way they’re our eastern cousins or something like that. The Mari have their own republic within the Russian Federation, but are still under a campaign of heavy russificiation, with closures of many Mari language newspapers and such. If you wish to learn more of their struggles, click here for further reading.

Some time ago Ville Haapasalo, a popular actor in both Finland and Russia, hosted a new travelling tv-show called “Suomensukuiset 30 päivässä” (or “The Finnic people in 30 days”) where he travelled in various republics of Russia meeting Finnic people. In one episode he participated in baking this pie with local Mari women and it looked so great we just had to try to reverse-engineer the recipe. This is what we were able to decipher from the episode, if there are other unmentioned ingredients, we’re completely unaware of them. However the pie is very tasty even like this and puts your pumpkin harvest into great use!


Paluš (Палуш)

2 dl soy milk
1 tsp baking powder
0,5 tsp salt
5 dl wheat flour

2 dl rice
1 ball basic seitan
about 50 g margarine
4 dl pumpkin cubes

Mix soy milk, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add enough wheat flour to form a soft dough.

Bring water to boil, add the rice and cook 10 minutes. The rice should be only half cooked. Dice the seitan. Melt about 1 tbsp margarine on a frying pan and fry seitan until lightly browned. Mix rice, seitan and pumpkin together and season with salt.

Roll about 3/4 of the dough into a large circle. The circle should be big enough to cover bottom and edges of a oven proof dish with some dough overlapping on edges. Put the dough to the dish and add the filling on it. Put lumps of margarine on top of the filling. Roll the rest of the dough into a smaller circle, put it on top of the pie. Pinch the edges of the doughs together tightly to create a decorative edge. Bake in 175-200 Celsius degrees 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.


According to the tv-show, this pie is eaten at various festivities. It’s also quite filling, so if you plan on not freezing leftovers or so, invite a couple of friends over and have a good time.


It’s also a bit hard – or at least was to us – to keep the pie in one piece after cutting it. Maybe that is how it’s supposed to be.


Gardening and Harvesting

We have rented a piece of land from the community garden nearby. We’re growing onions, radishes, spinach, chard, cucumber, pumpkin, dill, snow peas, fava beans and potatoes this year.

First some pictures from earlier this summer. The whole garden.

Onions and snow peas. We’ve harvested over 6 kg snow peas so far. Maybe over 7 kg, I haven’t weighted them all.

We planted a lot of potato, because there’s no water supply in the garden and we’re quite dependent on raining and potato survives well through dry periods.

Baby chard.

Chad has grown better than ever. Here I am making chard rolls. Similar to these, but bulgur and mushrooms as filling.

And some pictures from today. Spinach is growing much faster than I expected. I thought we could eat fresh spinach couple of times during the summer, but we have also frozen some, because it’s growing faster than we can eat it.

Our biggest pumpkin is now about size of a football:

Today’s dinner was made mostly of the things we’ve grown ourselves.

For the lasagne I made a tomato sauce with onion, snow peas and chard. I also threw in a half bell pepper that we had in fridge, and some white beans for extra protein. I used garlic, lovage, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper to give flavour. Then I made a bechamel sauce with spinach. Last I made layers of both sauces, whole wheat lasagna sheets and fresh basil to dish and baked it in the oven.

As side dish we had salad that was made of lettuce, radish leaves, radishes, cucumber, tomato and olives. Only radishes and cucumbers were from our garden, we didn’t have big enough lettuce leaves and tomatoes are very difficult to grow without a green house.

Warming Food On A Cold Day

The weather was cold today, so we needed warming food for dinner. We had some pumpkin in the fridge, and it needed to be used before it goes bad. I haven’t cooked much with pumpkin and the only foods I could think of were soup, pie and risotto. We had pumpkin soup two weeks ago and I didn’t want to make that again. From or somewhere I found a chili recipe, which called for pureed pumpkin. The recipe also called for turkey and, in my opinion, too few spices, so I didn’t follow it. But the idea of pureed pumpkin sounded good and I made this chili. It was good and tasty, but I couldn’t taste the pumpkin in it. Maybe I should have diced it instead of pureeing.

chiliChili with Pumpkin

2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp paprika
0,5 tsp cayenne
pinch chili powder
2 (small) onions
2 shallots
2 (big) garlic cloves
2 fresh chili peppers (I used lemon drop and caronong)
1 red bell pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 handfuls of diced kohlrabi
5 dl pureed pumpkin
1 can kidney beans (2 would be better)
2 dl corn

Chop the onions and shallots coarcely, mince the garlic and fresh chilies. Dice the bell pepper. Heat the oil in a large pot and fry caraway seeds, paprika, cayenne and chili powder for a minute. Add onions, shallots, garlic and chilies and sauté until the onions start to get soft. Add bell pepper and sauté few minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and kohlrabi and bring to boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 20 more minutes.

Soup Is Good Food

It’s time to use the pumpkin we have in our fridge. I used some of it to this soup, but there’s more than a half left, so we’ll be eating more pumpkin in the near future. Soup is nice food on a busy day, because you can just let it simmer while you do other things. This soup is a light meal, so you may want to have a hummus or tofu sandwitch with it. Or maybe serve it as a starter.

kurpitsakeittoPumpkin Soup

2-4 shallots
3 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh chili (I used lemon drop)
3cm piece fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 l water (or broth)
3 carrots, cut in 2-3cm thick slices
2 potatoes, cubed
1 l pumpkin cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lovage
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
50g creamed coconut

Chop the shallots coarsely. Mince garlic, chili and ginger. Heat the oil in a pot and fry the shallots for a minute or two. Add garlic, chili, ginger, turmeric, cumin and coriander and fry one more minute. Add the water, salt and lovage and bring to boil. Add carrots, potatoes and pumpkin, cover with a lid and cook until they are soft. Remove heat and puré the soup with a blender. Put the soup back on heat, add parsley and coconut and stir until the coconut is melted. Taste and add more salt or other spices if needed.